Winnipeg’s rising arson rate prompts need for ‘education officers’ says firefighter prez

Firefighters Union President Alex Forrest poses for a photo near a recent fire



WINNIPEG - Winnipeg's firefighters want to hire two "education officers" to combat an arson rate in the city that's been getting worse with every passing year.

United Firefighters of Winnipeg president Alex Forrest is calling for a short- and long-term strategy with the city's Arson Strike Force to curtail its ever-growing arson problem.

He's calling for an expansion of the Youth Fire Stop program to 16-year-olds, and referrals from police, courts, social workers and parents.

The second step is to give the Arson Strike Force more resources.

Forrest is also calling for "a long-term educational strategy" by sending three members of the fire department to inner-city schools, to "provide presentations to these schools in regard to arson dangers and its negative impact upon our city."

Forrest says his recommendations would be cost-neutral, as the department could hire firefighters that have injuries or other issues and are temporarily unable to fight fires.

"With the data, you (can) see how the number of arsons has risen as the Youth Fire Stop program referrals have decreased," Forrest said.

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