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Dagenham firefighters hit the saddle in bid to save lives

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 August 2019

L-R: Clare Papworth, Barrie May and Scott Jones. Picture: Jon King

L-R: Clare Papworth, Barrie May and Scott Jones. Picture: Jon King

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When most people think of firefighters they don't imagine them sitting on bikes.

Scott Jones and Clare Papworth are Barking and Dagenham cycle team. Picture: Jon KingScott Jones and Clare Papworth are Barking and Dagenham cycle team. Picture: Jon King

But Clare Papworth and Scott Jones from London Fire Brigade's Dagenham station cycle up to 20 miles a day around the borough as part of a new initiative to spot hazards and places where arsonists might strike.

Station manager Barrie May said: "The cycling team is invaluable. The bikes can reach parts of Barking and Dagenham that fire engines can't reach."

Scott explained that people who see them out riding often ask where the hoses and ladders are, but the pair's role is not tackling fires - that's a job for their fellow firefighters.

Their job is to prevent them happening in the first place.

"This is the first team in Barking and Dagenham. It's a great initiative. This is our version of bobbies on the beat though we're not there to stop crime," Scott said.

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Cardboard piled under the fire escape of a first floor flat in Rainham Road is one of the potential hazards the pair have spotted on their daily rounds.

Dumped furniture stacked against a house in Crow Lane, parked cars which could slow down access to emergencies for fire engines and vehicles blocking fire hydrants are among other risks tackled from the saddle.

Clare and Scott also ring on doors and visit venues across the borough to educate people about what they can do to make homes safer.

"We talk to people about getting a fire safety visit and smoke alarms. In winter we visit parks to warn people about the dangers of ice on open water," Clare said.

And according to the paie, who have almost 40 years of experience in the fire brigade between them, the reaction from the public has been positive.

"It's been really successful. There's a demand for what we do. In one day alone 50 houses we visited were protected with smoke alarms.

"We like making a difference in the community. We're not busy-bodies, we're just trying to save lives," Clare said.

To make an appointment for a free home fire safety visit email smokealarms@london-fire.gov.uk or call the brigade on 0800 028 4428.

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