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Firefighting For Our Planet


With Earth Hour fast approaching on the 19 March, 8:30pm; we’ve been looking back at some of the inspirational stories to come from previous years campaigns. Simon Jakeman is a London Firefighter, who became an ambassador for Earth Hour after being nominated a Green Hero back in 2013. His job puts him in direct contact with the devastating effects of climate change on a daily basis, so we caught up with him to see what heroic actions he’s been taking to make a difference to our planet.

As part of Earth Hour In 2013, the team set out on a mission to find the UK’s greenest citizens doing amazing work for their planet. Simon Jakeman, an Eco – Firefighter in London, was a proud winner of the work place category, having been nominated for his incredible roof garden on top of Kingston Fire station. Following his win, he’s been crowned as ‘London’s Greenest Firefighter’ and has been making his mark on the local community and the entirety of London since. We caught up with him to find out what he’s been up to and what his plans for the future are.

SImon and his flower potsSimon with plants he’s grown in the roof garden © Simon Jakeman

I’ve heard you had a first-hand experience handling the floods not long ago. Tell us how this inspired you to get into action, helping to save the planet.

I’ve been a Firefighter now for 20 years and in that time I have evacuated flooded homes by Boat, Pumped flood water, chased Wildfires and picked up the pieces after Storms. I really am on the front line of an increased frequency of extreme weather due to Climate Change. Really it was seeing how the effects of Climate change were drastically altering people’s daily lives and putting them at risk that inspired me to act on climate and “rescue the planet”.

Since winning WWF’s Hidden Heroes competition, what have you gone on to do to inspire your local community?

Since winning WWF’s Hidden Heroes Competition back in 2013, the Fire Station roof garden has grown even more and inspired many people in the local community to make small changes for the future of our planet. Schools and youth groups, local environmental groups, a local wildlife group, residents Councillors and our MP have all visited the garden her at the fire station. I’m hopeful it has given them all a little nudge to do their bit too.

Plants growing in Simon's roof garden above Surbiton fire station © Simon JakemanPlants growing in Simon’s roof garden above Surbiton fire station © Simon Jakeman

The station roof garden itself has recently been featured in a book called ‘My Tiny Garden’, which features urban gardens across the globe; from New York and San Francisco, to Tokyo and Surbiton. It’s a great achievement and a fantastic way to inspire others all over the world to pick up their garden tools and create something of their own.

I’ve been working hard to spread the message for a sustainable future far and wide! Not too long ago I acted as a representative for a local wildlife group her in Kingston; presenting a video they had created for a competition. I’m extremely proud to say that they were awarded the prize money and have plans to rejuvenate a green space and pond in the town centre. On top of this, my local Councillors recently voted me on to the council’s neighborhood committee and I was given the title of Community Advisor.

London Fire Brigade have made me their Super Green Champion, which means that I frequently give presentations and talks to London’s front line watches, admin personnel and HQ staff on how they could make their work place more eco–friendly to combat climate change. My presentations include a bit of everything from energy saving and recycling to encouraging biodiversity and reducing car use. I’ve even had reps from other Fire Brigades attend my presentation and a London Assembly Member from London’s City Hall.

roof vegVegetables growing on the roof of Surbiton fire station © Simon Jakeman

What’s your next conservation goal?

Where do I start! My next conservation goal is to get my whole town, borough and maybe even the whole city going green! I’m well on my way to ‘greening’ London from within having given my presentation to over 140 fire brigade watches across London in 2015. This year I’ll be doing the same, but I’ll be presenting to over 400 watches and over 100 fire stations. A few of the ways I’m thinking of doing this, is to encourage the local town to plant wild flowers for pollinators such as bee’s and butterfly’s in the main shopping area. I’ve even been thinking of ways we could potentially get bee hives on the fire stations!

As a WWF UK Earth Hour Ambassador, why do you believe Earth Hour is important and what will you be doing on the 19 March?

Earth Hour is so important. Not only does it shine a light on threats to our incredible species and habitats such as climate change, but it also encourages us all to do our bit for the planet. Small Steps really do add up. Earth Hour is a great opportunity to take that first step and join millions of others who care about our planet others across the world.

I’ll be joining the Earth Hour team this year in London for their on the night event at County Hall Marriott. As it’s overlooking the Thames it will be fantastic to see all the huge landmarks such as Big Ben switching off to show their support.

Earth Hour London Big Ben switched off © Vlad Balin WWF-UKEarth Hour London Big Ben switched off © Vlad Balin WWF-UK

And finally, if you could encourage people to take one small life style change, what advice would you give them?

If I could encourage people to take one small life style change, I would want them to realise you can make a difference. You may think one person can’t make a difference, but you really can! I simply decided one day to grow some tomatoes in a bucket on a fire station roof, got up… and did it. I’m really proud of how far and wide my actions have spread and hope to see more people doing the same in the future.

Has Simon inspired you to make a change and help your community become more eco-friendly? Comment below and let us know what your plans are this Earth Hour.
If you haven’t already, add yourself to our interactive map and find out more about how you can get involved on March 19, 8:30pm.

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