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BOLTON’S most senior fire officer is moving on after eight years.

Ian Bailey, borough manager for Bolton, will be leaving his post at Bolton Central Fire Station today to oversee Greater Manchester Fire Service’s biggest patch — Bury, Oldham, and in the near future Rochdale.

Mr Bailey said: “I have been in Bolton for eight years, and have loved every minute of it.

“I have 20 months left in the service and this will be give me a new focus.”

He says he will take initiatives developed in Bolton with him to his new role.

The father-of-three, from Altrincham, says projects which stand out during his time at Bolton are the work with the borough’s young people, helping to establish a group called Blazing Squad for youngsters at risk of falling into anti-social behaviour.

Since then it has developed and now gives all young people, not just those classed “at risk”, a chance to “work” with the fire service.

Bolton has established a cadet scheme and runs The Prince’s Trust, which has developed links with schools.

All of these things are designed to help young people develop confidence, team building, leadership skills.

Mr Bailey, aged 50, said: “This came about when I was at an area forum and there was a discussion on what can be done for young people.

“Cllr Bob Wilkinson, a former firefighter who sat on the Greater Manchester Fire Authority, said he knew just the organisation.

“The idea was to identify young people at risk of anti-social behaviour and now we run a number of schemes for young people as part of fire prevention work.

"We have to start with young people, because with elderly people it is hard to change their habits because they have lived that way for a long time.”

He added that the scheme also reduced anti-social behaviour Mr Bailey said: “These are fantastic schemes.

“Those young people who have been on the scheme can have a real impact on their peers.

“For example not throwing stones at firefighters because they have met them and know who they are.”

During his time Mr Bailey said he had worked to develop links with the community which has resulted in carers being trained to identify risks.

Those concerns are then passed on to the fire service. More recently links with the Bolton Council of Mosques has resulted in a campaign to highlight road safety to young drivers.

Mr Bailey said this partnership working is something he wants to replicate through the three boroughs he will be overlooking.

But he added one of the most difficult times while working in Bolton was the fire at Little Holme Walk in Great Lever.

It claimed the lives of 71-year-old Hameeda Begum and her grand-daughter, Alana Mian, aged just four.

Alana’s mother Saima Mian survived but was badly burned.

Grandfather Mumtaz Chishty survived the inferno and is still appealing for those who started the blaze by pushing a wheelie bin against the end terrace home and deliberately setting it alight to come forward as no one has been prosecuted for the crime, which took place on June 23, 2008.

The blaze also left hero firefighter Steve Morris with life-changing injuries with 50 per cent burns as he made desperate attempts to rescue the family. He was unable to return to work as a firefighter.

Mr Bailey said: “That was the most haunting experience, the family who were killed and what happened to Steve.

“He is an absolute inspiration to people how he got through the other side.”

Mr Bailey added: “I had never worked in Bolton before I took up the position, but I knew it had a history of being a friendly town and it definitely is, we have had partnerships working with different organisations.

“I will miss the people, the operational firefighters and the staff and their attitude and approach to helping the people of Bolton.

“I am honoured to have been the borough manager for Bolton.”