THE number of deliberate fires across the Highlands has fallen to the lowest level in five years, latest figures show.
There was a total of 36 incidents recorded across the region between April 1 and June 30.
And this compares to 44 deliberate fires over the same period last year and 91 in 2014.
But Local Senior Officer John MacDonald said there is no room for complacency - and his firefighters will continue to drive forward relentless prevention efforts.
He spoke after revealing his first quarter figures to Highland Council earlier today, 28 September.
LSO MacDonald said: “I am pleased to note this reduction - but there can never be room for complacency.
“Deliberate fire setting not only damages our outstanding environment here in the Highlands but it puts our communities at risk and could also impact on local businesses.
“We have found that education is the most effective weapon in our prevention armoury.
“We welcome every available opportunity to work with our communities to make them aware of the very real consequences of deliberate fire setting.”
Prevention efforts are also continuing through partnership working with Safer Highland Anti-social Behaviour Group, Inverness Response team and the Safer Caithness Team.
The LSO added: “We continue to work with our partners to further reduce instances of deliberate fires, including those related to anti-social behaviour as well as those attributable to wildfires.
“And we will continue to promote best practice and partnership working through the Scottish Wildfire Forum - targeting key groups ahead of known peak wildfire and muirburning periods.”
In his report, LSO MacDonald also told how there had been no fire fatalities during the first quarter of the year.
But he reiterated his commitment to use all available prevention measures to continue to keep people safe.
FREE Home Fire Safety Visits play a key role.
Firefighters will visit homes, check or install smoke detectors and give residents advice on what to do in the event of an emergency.
The SFRS actively seeks to support the most vulnerable to live safely at home.
The Highland fire chief said: “The data for the first quarter is positive and very much welcomed.
“But we stand on the front line at times of emergency and we are therefore well aware of the potential consequences that can result from a fire.
“We prefer to prevent fires – not fight fires. And we will continue to deliver free Home Fire Safety Visits to advise and inform residents of the dangers of fire in the home.
“We will also continue to work with partner agencies through a range of initiatives including the Healthy Homes for Highland, NHS Alcohol Brief Interventions and NHS Falls Referrals.
“These initiatives include the installation of free smoke alarms, the provision of life safety information and advice as well as supporting the referral to other key partners for advice and assistance.”
The report showed an increase in the number of accidental house fires.
LSO MacDonald said: “Of the 34 fires reported, 28 did not spread beyond the item which was first ignited.
“A total of 16 did not require any firefighting intervention and only five required the removal of the fuel supply or heat source.”
He also spoke to elected members about the success of a recent multi-agency event, led by the SFRS, to promote road safety.
Road Safety Week was recently held in Lochaber with “outstanding support from all our partners and plans are already underway to deliver it again next year due to its initial success,” said the LSO.
He will now be asking staff to consider rolling the event out across the Highland area.
To register for a FREE Home Fire Safety Visit call the SFRS Freephone number: 0800 0731 999, or visit the website at www.firescotland.gov.uk