Drop in deliberate fires in Dumfries and Galloway

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Local Senior Officer Hamish McGhie delivered the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service performance report to councillors this week.

The number of deliberate fires in Dumfries and Galloway has fallen to its lowest level in nearly five years.

Latest figures reveal only two such incidents were reported between July and September, 2016 – down from 12 on the previous three months.

The total is a reduction on the same period in 2015 when the figure stood at nine.

The fires relate to a domestic and a commercial premises.

Welcoming the findings, Hamish McGhie, Local Senior Officer (LSO) for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “This is a positive result however we’re never complacent and preventing deliberate fires remains a key priority for us.

“Such incidents are completely unacceptable and cause significant distress to victims and their families.

“Where deliberate fire setting is discovered we will work alongside our partners in Police Scotland to try and identify those responsible as quickly as possible.

“As part of our ongoing prevention strategies we offer 'fire setting intervention' where we explain the dangers and consequences to prevent re-occurrence.

“In addition, we are continuing with our long running education programme for P6 pupils with a focus on fire safety.”

The findings were highlighted in a report brought before the Wigtownshire Area Committee on Tuesday, 7 February.

It also revealed a significant fall in the number of deliberate fires set in open ground.

A total of 20 incidents were recorded by the emergency service between July and September – down from 45 in the previous three months and a reduction from 29 over the same period in 2015.

Most of the fires involved rubbish, wooded areas and grassland.

LSO McGhie added: “These findings highlight the progress that is being made in tackling anti-social behaviour across Dumfries and Galloway.

“By working closely with our partners in the police we will continue to work towards identifying incidents of deliberate fire setting and take all necessary steps to prevent such instances from happening in the future.”

The number of accidental house fires increased from 15 the previous year to 28. There were also two fire-related casualties and one fatality.

LSO McGhie finished: “Any death is one too many and preventing fatalities or serious injury is extremely important for us.

“When such tragedies occur we will work closely with our emergency service colleagues and provide them with any assistance that we can.”

SFRS teams carried out 469 free home fire safety visits between July and September where they checked or installed smoke detectors and issued safety advice.

Free home fire safety visits are available by calling SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999, by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or by filling in a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk.