Highland's Local Senior Officer hails partnership approach to fire casualty reduction

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Local Fire Plan for Highland approved by region's scrutiny committee today

SFRS name line on appliance

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Local Senior Officer (LSO) for Highland believes a multi-agency approach to fire prevention is contributing to a reduction in casualties across the region.

LSO Scott Hay presented his third quarter report to the Community Safety, public engagement and equalities committee at Highland Council headquarters in Inverness.

He told members of the Highland scrutiny committee that Home Fire Safety Visit referrals from other agencies were recorded at 21% after the third quarter.

Mr Hay said that the figure highlights that SFRS is working effectively with partner agencies and contributing to increased public safety.

Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) are linked to the priorities in the Local Fire and Rescue Plan, which councillors today approved at the scrutiny committee, and are aimed at reducing the number of accidental fires in the home.

After the third quarter SFRS had completed 2,713 Home Fire Safety Visits across Highland and an encouraging figure of 577 visits came from other agency referrals. These figures equate to 90% of the annual target for HFSVs.

LSO Hay said: "Although we have seen an increase in the number of accidental dwelling fires in the third quarter we have also seen a reduction in the number of casualties.

"This is very encouraging and may be attributable to the multi-agency approach we are taking in relation to prevention  and protection.

"We are pleased to note the level of agency referrals in terms of HFSVs and the more of these free visits we can carry out then the safer our communities will be."

He added: "The reduction in our casualty figures suggests that people are receiving pre-warning of fires within the home thanks to items such as smoke detectors and Home Fire Safety Visits contribute to this.

"The visits are free and we can install smoke detection systems for homes which don't have these devices fitted. You can find information about how to arrange a free visit by going to our website www.firescotland.gov.uk "

The Local Senior Officer for Highland also highlighted in his third quarter report that malicious (deliberately started) across Highland have decreased from 59 in the third quarter of 2012/13 to 34 in the same quarter in 2013/14.

LSO Hay said: "The service is helping to reduce this number through participation in the multi-agency Go Safe Scotland School Programme which is designed to highlight, amongst other things, the danger of fire setting and fire safety in the home."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service routinely share information, supporting joint investigations to identify possible causes.

Mr Hay said: "This activity aligns to Highland Single Outcome Agreement Reduction in fire related anti-social behaviour and reduction in crimes of vandalism.

The Scrutiny Committee was also told about the service's ongoing promotion and engagement work to encourage more people to sign up to become retained firefighters.

The Service is fully aware that RDS (Retained Duty System) staff availabilty during the day is an issue and is encouraging more peole to sign up and "live a life less ordinary."

Mr Hay said he was particularly keen to attract people who may be home during the day to provide fire cover in their communities between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

He said: "There is no question that availability during the day is something we are keen to enhance and we would appeal to anyone who may be able to provide such cover to get in touch and join the retained service.

"We are also keen to attract more women into the service, particularly those who may be home during the day."

To find out more about what the role entails and if you are interested in joining the RDS service please visit our website www.firescotland.gov.uk and find out how you could become a local hero.