“It’s down to us to really make a difference”

Kevin Quinn is a watch manager at Lee Green Fire Station, Lewisham and founder of the Firefighter Foundation.

We first got involved with For Jimmy when my wife Karen Quinn, who is a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), worked in the Ladywell Safer Neighbourhoods team. She mentioned all the good work they’d done getting shops to sign up to the Safe Havens For Jimmy scheme on Brockley Road.

We thought the Safe Havens were such a great idea, and wanted to get fire stations involved. If a child came running into our station we would give them shelter and make the police aware anyway, so I thought it was a bit of a no brainer really for them to become Safe Havens. When I moved to the Lee Green station, just down the road from where Jimmy was tragically killed, it seemed right to make that the first one. With the support of Barry, Margaret and Simon Jones (in the middle of this picture and director of the For Jimmy schools programme), it did so well that Safe Havens were rolled out across 37 fire stations in south-east London.

For Jimmy was an inspiration to us, to stand up and take responsibility for making your own environment and community better. Originally, the idea for the Firefighter Foundation began after 9/11. A group of firefighters from all over the country, including myself, started raising money for the widows and orphans of the 343 fire fighters that died in New York. After establishing Safe Havens, Margaret and Barry really inspired us to carry this charitable work on, so we became a registered charity in 2014.

Barry and Margaret made us realise that you can’t sit around waiting for other people to make your life safer. It’s down to us to really make a difference.

The first initiative that we are introducing as the Firefighter Foundation is to campaign to get defibrillators into every school across the UK. Around 270 children die after suffering sudden cardiac arrest each year, but there is no requirement for defibrillators to be kept in the school. We are in partnership with St John Ambulance for our Sweet Hearts campaign. This is an online resource filled with information on fundraising ideas, so that schools around the country can get a defibrillator and training in how to use it.

We’re also really pleased to have just got our first fire engine that we’ll use for events and keep at our Firefighter Heritage Centre in Kent. It was made in 1992, the same year that Jimmy was born, so in memory of him, we’ve called it The Spirit of Jimmy. Barry and Margaret made us realise that you can’t sit around waiting for other people to make your life safer. It’s down to us to really make a difference.

www.firefighterfoundation.org.uk

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