Lambeth’s new fire Borough Commander tells the Weekender his plans for the borough

FIREFIGHTERS could soon be helping locals to quit smoking, binge drinking and drug abuse after Lambeth’s new borough commander revealed his plans for the borough.

Rick Ogden, who took over from former Lambeth fire stations head Ian Black on July 1, will train fire crews to help kick dangerous habits in a bid to drive down the number of blazes in the borough.

Rick Ogden took over as Borough Commander last month

Rick Ogden took over as Borough Commander last month

Lambeth has one of the highest amount of fires in the capital, with over 200 more fires than the average London amount of 616 between 2012 and 2013.

Mr Ogden, 33, who hopes to launch the project in the next three months, will train firefighters across Lambeth to deliver the advice during home fire safety visits – a free service to check houses for potential fire risks.

Mr Ogden, who joined the fire brigade back in 2001, delivered the scheme in his former post in Merton last year, where it was nominated for a national award.

He said that mixing smoking and drinking can prove a lethal cocktail when it comes to fire safety.

“We want to make Lambeth the safest place to work and live in London,” he said.

“Smoking, drinking and substance abuse can be key contributing factors in fires,” he said.

“Careless disposal of cigarettes can cause serious fires, especially when mixed with large amounts of alcohol, as people can become more careless and less aware of what they are doing.

“All operational staff will be qualified to give advice and to signpost people to support services like smoking cessation services.”

Mr Ogden, who grew up in Clapham, will also priorities increasing community engagement in a bid to reduce arson and anti-social behaviour.

A series of open days will be held across the borough where locals can visit fire stations and meet the staff. The first will be held in West Norwood in September, while Brixton Fire Station will open its doors for a festive party around Christmas time.