A lion in fireman's clothing

CROMWELL THE FIRE FIGHTER CD-Rom for Acorn and Multimedia PC Pounds 39. 95 plus VAT (Pounds 69.95 plus VAT for site licence) Cambridgeshire Software House PO Box 163, Huntingdon, Cambs PE17 3UR

In the run-up to Fire Safety Week, Durham County Fire and Rescue Brigade - at the forefront of fire safety messages to schools - has released a fire-safety CD-Rom pack. by 1995 Station Officer Alan Wray made sure the popular Learn Not to Burn teaching pack had been issued to every local school. Since then a full range of resources has been put in place - like Francis The Firefly books and video from the Home Office, regular visits from fire crews, or the Cause for Alarm video.

Now Mr Wray has now found sponsorship for 13 Fire Boxes - which all include a full set of Fire Brigade kit - and set up local resources for schools at the Durham Library and Resource centre. But there was a lack of any interactive computer element for infants and juniors - hence the development of the Cromwell The Fire Fighter CD-Rom. The result is a truly useful resource that anyone remotely interested in fire safety can use.

Cromwell the lion cub, resplendent in fire helmet, guides you through a multimedia story following an active crew dealing with a real fire. Photographs and sound clips are used liberally and a limited amount of video adds to the drama.

Two levels of text make it accessible to a wide ability range. Actual recordings of 999 calls are included - you can hear how the incident room handled them.

In addition to the main scenario is what could be considered the real meat of the project: information about safety in the home and what to do in case of fire, for example, the result of pouring water on a flaming chip pan is dramatically illustrated. Active buttons appear on the computer screen which lead on to a related safety item like smoke alarms, their fitting, maintenance and testing.

The CD-Rom has accompanying worksheets and various teacher resources. A database of 29 pieces of fire-fighting equipment can help with data-handling, while the schools version of the pack includes a large streetbuilding plan to help programme a floor robot (Pixie, Pip or Roamer are common products for primaries) to act as a fire appliance. Twenty activity cards are available, and instructions can be recorded on the Cromwell planning sheets provided.

This is a splendid resource which every school should possess.

The Cromwell CD-Rom completes a primary fire-safety package for all Durham schools. Durham IT centre will run twilight courses for teachers (Pounds 20 per session) at the end of which each teacher will receive the pack for use in their school. Thirty-four brigades nationally have already received a half-price copy with the aim that they obtain local sponsorship to put a copy in every school

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