Arson co-ordinator job

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Rachel Turner works as an arson co-ordinator. Arson is the name given to fires that are started deliberately; in fact arson is the single main cause of all fires in the UK. Rachel works with local authority, police and community wardens to identify ways of reducing this criminal activity.

What does your arson co-ordinator job involve?

My job is to raise awareness in the community and help reduce the number of fires which are started deliberately. I look for ways in which we can prevent arson. Mainly, this is done through partnership work with local authorities and community wardens to identify areas which could be potential arson sites.

It is also part of my job to obtain and present information concerning the types of arson being encountered and the extent of the problem.

What are potential sites for arson?

Abandoned vehicles provide the main material for arsonists. Also, places where refuse has been tipped and left such as in empty premises or on construction sites in derelict areas.

What action do you take in these cases?

We ensure that unoccupied premises in high risk areas are boarded up and that refuse is removed. We also work with various community organisations to organise schemes for the removal of illegal bonfires and we have seasonal targets for the collection of unwanted items for example, after Christmas. Poor refuse management, where rubbish remains uncollected, is a matter for discussion with the local authorities.

What equipment do you use?

Digital cameras are used especially when carrying out arson audit inspections as they can help to portray the seriousness of the risks we identify. We also have various items of safety clothing and torches for carrying out our inspections in dark or unsafe unoccupied premises.

How did you get into this job?

I was already working within Cleveland Fire Brigade, but I had an interest in community safety. I approached the management and asked to be considered for any future roles within this area. I was then offered a six-month secondment to this role.

What training do you receive?

I am training constantly. I shadowed a senior member of the team for about three months and my previous experience with the brigade helped enormously.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the job?

I particularly like the diversity as no two days are ever the same. I like the responsibility and the opportunities for meeting different people. The main disadvantage is that I can find myself in situations which are unpleasant or environmentally unclean.

What are the skills and qualities needed to be an arson co-ordinator?

You need excellent communication skills as you have to deal with many different levels of people. You also need to be patient as some of the work can take a long time and you may have to work with a number of different partnerships. I have found my management and IT skills to be a great advantage.

Rachel's steps to her job

  • GCSEs.
  • A level in English Literature.
  • University Certificate for Professional Development in Computing.
  • NVQ Level 3 Business Admin.
  • Diploma in Management Studies.

Rachel's tips

  • Continue in further education and gain further skills and experience.
  • Persevere and don't be afraid to ask for what you want.

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Salary of an arson co-ordinator job

  • Salaries at this grade in the fire service are in accordance with standard scales starting at £18,000 rising to £23,175 when competence is achieved.
  • Crew managers can earn between £23,790 and £24,816.

Entry requirements vary slightly between fire and rescue services.

As a guide, applicants will need:

  • One or more GCSEs/S grades or equivalent, especially English.
  • Applicants are tested on their numerical and verbal skills.
  • Computer literacy and keyboard skills, such as RSA 1 typing.
  • Relevant previous experience, such as a job within the uniformed services or work experience in a customer-facing environment.
  • Evidence of being able to work well within a team and to remain calm and decisive under extreme pressure.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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