Retired firefighter ‘humbled’ by honour

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A retired firefighter from St Leonards has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for his role in reducing hoax 999 calls and deliberate fires.

Peter Clarke’s British Empire Medal (BEM) recognises his work creating ‘Crossfire’, a multi-agency community engagement project designed to reduce hoax calling, deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour, through education and direct partnership working.

Set up 13 years ago, predominantly to tackle the high number of hoax calls and non-accidental fires in the borough of Croydon, the project is currently working in partnership with around 25 agencies and is being rolled out into other London boroughs.

Peter served as a firefighter for 30 years at New Addington fire station.

Now retired, he works for the London Fire Brigade’s Education team on the ‘Crossfire’ project.

Peter has raised more than £500,000 in funding since the project’s inception, in order to sustain the project financially.

The 63-year-old said: “I’m completely shocked, it’s very humbling to receive this award.

“It’s a feather in the cap for the project as a whole and everybody who has been involved with it.

“I feel very proud.

“The project started because fire engines kept getting attacked and something needed to be done.

“It’s really nice to be publicly acknowledged for what I’ve achieved.”

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “I am very pleased for Peter and this awards is a fitting recognition of all his hard work and achievements.”

Mr Clarke has also been praised by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said: “I am delighted that Peter’s hard work has been recognised with this well-deserved honour.

“Not only has he been willing to risk his life as a firefighter to help keep Londoners safe, but his exemplary work has helped to reduce pressure on the service from anti-social behaviour.”