The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) diverted resources into fighting hundreds of “deliberate and reckless” fires last year, new fighres have revealed
Firefighters worked throughout last summer battling blazes at homes, vehicles, grassland, refuse and derelict buildings, creating extra pressure on firefighters when genuine emergencies arose and placing lives at risk.
Between just June 29 and August 31 last year there were 494 deliberate fires at homes and buildings– a rise of 30 from summer 2014. The greatest number was in Edinburgh city, which had 75, followed by 68 in Glasgow city and 49 in North Lanarkshire. In comparison, the Orkney Islands had just one report with five in Dumfries; there were 1,905 deliberate secondary fires in fields, refuse and countryside locations, with the highest number in Glasgow City with 393 while there were 238 reported in Edinburgh City and East Ayrshire recorded 229; Ayrshire also had the highest number of grassland and woodland fires with 75, followed by Edinburgh city and Falkirk which each recorded 68 and Glasgow City which had 58 - 600 were reported in total; 1,368 fires, both deliberate and accidental, involved refuse with Glasgow City recording 300, 247 in Edinburgh City and 120 in Ayrshire.
Firefighters also attended 102 fires at derelict buildings – 20 more than summer 2014 - with the majority again in Glasgow City at 25, with 11 in Ayrshire and nine in both the East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire area, and in Falkirk.
There were also 67 fires in unoccupied buildings – up from 44 in summer 2014. Of these, 20 were in Falkirk, 12 in the East Lothian, Midlothian and Scottish Borders area and eight in Aberdeenshire and Moray.
Assistant Chief Officer Robert Scott, SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, condemned the findings and warned that this year will work closely with Police Scotland to identify those responsible for deliberately setting fires.
He also appealed to parents, carers and young people to join Scotland’s fight against fire as the school holidays – a traditionally busy time of year for firefighters.
He said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has a zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire-raising because it puts our communities at great risk.
“Deliberate fires, in particular at areas of grassland and refuse, waste our time and resources and have the potential to delay us from reaching real emergencies - where every single minute counts.
“It absolutely goes without saying that we prefer to prevent fires – not fight fires. As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages in order to keep our communities as safe as possible.
“We would ask parents and carers to help us also by discussing summer fire safety with young people. Together we can work towards a fire-free summer.”
“Every deliberate fire has victims, costs - and consequences. We need our communities to work with us in helping stamp out this reckless behaviour.”
Others have also been linked to barbeques and camping and there are, on average, almost 100 caravan fires in Scotland every year.
ACO Scott added: “A fire in a caravan or mobile home can be devastating as it can spread much more quickly than it would in a house or flat.
“We want holidaymakers to take extra care and think about fire safety when they are away from home. We cannot stress enough the importance of working smoke alarms in a caravan.”
Fire safety information is available online at www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/barbecue-safety.aspx aand SFRS is urging anyone with information about deliberate fire-raising to report it immediately on the free and confidential Crimestoppers helpline 0800 555 111.
Members of the public can also flag up any illegal rubbish dumps at www.dumbdumpers.org or by calling 08452 304090.