Thousands of wristbands are being handed out to Glasgow schoolchildren in a bid to cut attacks on firefighters. Witty slogans printed on the 18,500 flame-coloured plastic bracelets include “Here to help, don’t geeza skelp”.
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue is the latest organisation to use the wristband craze to appeal to youngsters.
Last year 25,000 green and blue anti-sectarian wristbands were handed out in 200 schools across Strathclyde.
The aim of the Young Crew initiative is to stamp out the culture of attacks on firefighters, as well as fire-raising and vandalism of fire hydrants.
As revealed in yesterday’s Evening Times, crews were attacked 529 times over the past four years.
The problem is worst in the most deprived areas and, despite stiffer penalties being brought in, there were calls for more to be done.
Firefighters hope the wristbands will make youngsters realise they’re not an enemy.
Plastic bracelets in five designs are to be handed out to primary and secondary school pupils in north-east Glasgow by firefighters from Parkhead, Calton, Easterhouse and Springburn.
The areas are among the worst for attacks on firefighters, along with Drumchapel, Castlemilk, and parts of Paisley and Motherwell.
As well as the “Don’t geeza skelp” wristbands, other slogans include “Rockets open hydrants”, “Bin fires – pure rubbish”, “Make Fire History”, and “Be an everyday hero”.
Its also hoped the initiative will discourage fire-raisers who start 200 blazes outside homes each month in northeast Glasgow, and curb the vandals who force open fire hydrants more than 100 times each summer.
An information pack with the wristbands says: “You’d have to be a total rocket to open hydrants.”
The bands were launched yesterday at St Michael’s Primary in Parkhead by Chief Officer Brian Sweeney and were an immediate hit with the kids.
Amy McMahon, 11, from Bridgeton, said: “The firemen asked us how many people had attacked fire fighters and quite a few people put their hands up.
“But after finding out about what firefighters do they all felt really guilty.
“It made them decide not to attack firefighters again, so hopefully it will stop other people doing it as well.
“I really like the wrist bands, they look really cool.
They’ll help people remember what we’ve learned.”
Craig Johnston, 10, from Parkhead, said: “I think this will stop people attacking fire fighters.
“The people who admitted they had done it said it was just because they were bored.
“I think people will wear these wristbands. I like the one that says ‘rockets open hydrants’.
Steve King, the fire service’s area manager for north-east Glasgow, said: “The flame image has an inherent cool factor and, while wristbands are not new, the flame design is new.
“We hope the new design will appeal to young people while subtly conveying an important message.”
In a separate initiative, 60 pupils from St Michael’s and nearby Quarrybrae Primary have written and starred in a movie called Cool Crews with firefighters from Parkhead fire station.
Mr King said: “Rather than simply lecturing pupils, we thought the idea of young people making their own movie was more interesting.”