Lula and the Flame

SWFRS launches book writing project to help spread fire safety awareness amongst primary school children

Children from six primary schools across Rhondda Cynon Taff worked together with local experts to write the tale of a tortoise named Lula, who has a close brush with wildfire on her quest to find warmth.

The Arson Reduction Team (ART), alongside partners such as Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and South Wales Police (SWP), have worked together to co-author a children’s book highlighting the dangers that deliberate fires can cause. It is hoped that the book will be used as an educational tool by local authorities, emergency services, and other schools, to teach children about the dangers of fire.

The story follows a tortoise called Lula who, tempted by a friendly but unattended flame in the woods, lights the end of a twig to keep warm – freeing the flame from its stone circle. Lula comes across an angry badger, who scolds her for her naivety:

Do you have any idea what fire can do to these woods? It only takes one spark, you know.”

The fire quickly becomes out of control, and the animals within the forest are forced to run for their lives.

Fire services across Wales tackle deliberate grass fires year on year during the spring season; caused by a mixture of anti-social behaviour, householders burning refuse waste, and farmers and landowners burning grassland outside the permitted winter burn dates.

Mike Hill, Station Manager – Arson Reduction Team – originally came up with up the idea to write the book, and has been overseeing the running of the project, which spanned eight weekly creative sessions.

Mike said:

“Our aim is to reduce the uncontrolled environmental destruction and potential threat to lives and property arising from deliberately set grass fires.

“We hand-picked six different primary schools in the Rhondda, and four children from each school were nominated to join the project. We chose Rhondda Cynon Taff as it is one of the worst affected areas when it comes to deliberate fire setting.

“We had input from experts both inside and outside of SWFRS. An ecologist from Natural Resources Wales came in to discuss everything ecology: teaching the kids about how plants and wildlife can be affected by wildfire. The police gave their input, and obviously our knowledge of the dangers of wildfire was paramount to the plot of the story.

“We are all very excited to see the final product and hopefully it has a lasting effect on the schools and the communities of Rhondda Cynon Taff.”

From 19th-21st March, the book will be presented at the six schools attended by the children involved in the project, during the period which usually marks the beginning of wildfire season. Members of the partnership organisations will also be in attendance to show their support.

SWFRS wants to thank the children for their creativity, and helping us spread the word on the dangers of anti-social behaviour and deliberate fires

Lula and the Flame front cover