Firefighters to help tackle domestic abuse

Joseph Bulmer

North Devon officers to trial new early intervention pilot scheme

FIRE Officers in North Devon are to receive domestic violence and abuse awareness training.

The specialist training – being offered by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (DSFRS) in conjunction with Safer North Devon and voluntary agencies, means firefighters will be better able to identify the signs of domestic violence and abuse when offering fire safety information or attending incidents.

Alan Kyle, from DSFRS and Safer North Devon, said: “We do not receive any formal domestic violence and abuse awareness training so this is a great idea.

“We regularly visit people offering them fire safety advice, so the new training will provide us with further opportunities to make our communities safer places to live, in line with our mission statement, ‘Acting to Protect and Save’.”

It is hoped the one-day course – being run by the Devon-wide Against Domestic Violence and Abuse agency – will provide an opportunity for early intervention and will make a positive difference to individuals and to the community as a whole.

Mr Kyle said if the six-month pilot project was successful, it could be rolled out across the fire service throughout Devon and Somerset.

“The course will raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence upon children and families, increase understanding of how best to offer help and support and raise standards of practice both individually and collectively,” he said.

“An officer I know who has previously had some domestic violence and abuse awareness training has already used this knowledge to help support a person who was a victim of abuse.”

Helen Frisby, refuge manager at North Devon Women’s Aid. Said North Devon had seen a rise in domestic violence and abuse reporting against the county trend.

“One of the reasons for this is our extensive work in raising education and awareness,” she said.

“We have a very strong partnership working in the area and the benefit of having trained personnel within the fire service is their access to community and especially people’s homes, where we know most domestic abuse occurs.

“To have officers trained in recognising the signs and having the knowledge to provide information about the relevant agencies will be a valuable addition to the Partnership Team here in North Devon and eventually even countywide.”