LIFESAVING firefighters are giving up their free time to keep residents safe on the roads.

Casualty reduction teams are teaching bikers, students and the public about road safety.

Andy Stroulger, road traffic collision manager for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, heads up the teams.

He explained fire crews are often sent to horrific crashes.

His volunteers, many of whom have cut out dead or seriously injured people from crash wreckage, want to help people before they are hurt.

One of the schemes is called Firebike to help train motorcyclists.

Mr Stroulger said: “They are one per cent of traffic but involved in 26 per cent of road traffic collisions making them the highest risk group.

“They are often difficult to engage with but we held 100 events last year.

“There are eight members of the team, all firefighters, who volunteer at the events which have become incredibly successful.”

All are bikers themselves, trained to the highest standard in riding and instruction, and their Better Biking courses and skills training saves lives.

An off-shoot of this is the Moped Scooter Safety Course.

Mr Stroulger said: “These are young males predominently, a high risk group. We run coruses at colleges and universities with the police and Essex County Council.”

Another branch of the road safety schemes being run by firefighters and supported by the fire service is Community Wheels for 16 to 18-year-olds.
A one hour briefing is followed by safety checks and skill training.

Mr Stroulger said: “It started two years ago and we bring it to colleges.
“We have carried out courses in Chelmsford, Braintree, Epping, Harlow, Colchester, Clacton, Basildon and Thurrock.”

It is all part of a strategy to make sure the roads are used to get people where they want to go rather than becoming a graveyard with tribute flowers on the sides of the highways.

Mr Stroulger said the team focuses on young people and bikers because they are the most at risk.

He revealed road traffic collisions are the biggest single cause of death for people aged 16 to 25.

He said: “Young people are dying and we want to help stop it happening.”
And the latest addition is a desktop simulator for young drivers.

He added: “We are lucky to have a great team here and just want to help.”
Many of the activities are carried out in their own time on top of the lifesaving activities they carry out every day.