Inverclyde sees massive drop in number of deliberately-started fires

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Firefighters in the area have been working closely with partner agencies to address fire-related anti-social behaviour

SFRS name line on appliance

A significant reduction in the number of deliberately-started fires has been achieved in Inverclyde thanks to the close partnerships between firefighters, police officers, community wardens and housing officers.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) revealed there were 95 such incidents in the area between 1 July and 30 September 2015.

It represents a massive 38 per cent drop from the 154 recorded during the same three months the previous year.

Firefighters throughout Inverclyde have been busy reaching out to raise awareness of the dangers deliberately-started fires pose to communities, working alongside their fellow professionals from partner agencies to address fire-related anti-social behaviour.

Area Manager Martin Gordon, the local senior officer, said: “Engaging with people who could be at increased risk of becoming involved in starting fires makes them aware it’s never harmless fun.

“We know deliberate fires are often started by children or young people who may not fully understand the dangers involved.

“Our dedicated fire safety staff provide a range of educational visits to promote fire safety and this includes making young people realise that even small fires can seriously affect others and lead to tragedy.”

He explained: “The toxic smoke produced by a fire on waste-ground or in a derelict building will often travel through the air and endanger people in homes or businesses in the vicinity.

“If someone has a breathing condition like asthma, if they struggle with their mobility or suffer from anxiety then what might seem like a harmless fire involving rubbish or grass could be far more than an inconvenience.

“Making individuals aware of the potentially tragic consequences of starting fires changes attitudes and equips young people to challenge anyone they know who might be involved.”

Each year firefighters throughout Scotland attend around 20,000 deliberately set fires involving bins, skips, fly-tipped materials, derelict buildings and dry grass.

Inverclyde’s SFRS team includes a dedicated officer co-ordinating their approach with partner agencies, but firefighters, police officers, community wardens and housing officers know their success also depends on the public’s support.

Area Manager Gordon said: “Reporting any build-up of rubbish to the council or the community fire station will help ensure it can be removed and prevent fires.

“Residents can further help reduce the number of incidents by keeping wheelie bins out of sight, stored away from the building and, if possible, behind locked gates.

“We also need parents to discuss fire safety with their kids and make sure they know how serious deliberate fires are.”