Fife’s fire chief has vowed to protect the community following an increase in deliberate fire setting by driving forward prevention efforts.
Latest figures have revealed how firefighters recorded a total of 860 such incidents within the region during 2017/2018 - an increase of 99 on the previous year.
Statistics indicate that fires involving refuse accounted for the majority of this type of incident.
To address the increase, crews will continue to carry out a range of educational programmes to highlight the dangers of fire-setting.
Firefighters will visit schools to speak with pupils and engage with local businesses but also work with police to identify those responsible.
Roddie Keith is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Fife, Clackmannanshire and Stirling.
He said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has a very clear, zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising because it puts our communities at great risk.
“Fire-setting is never acceptable, never fun, or cool – it’s dangerous and needless.
“It presents a genuine threat to members of the public and to our crews.
“This is why we continually work to educate members of the public on the very real dangers of fire-setting and try to lay bare the fact that every deliberate fire has victims, costs – and consequences.
“We will continue to work very closely with Police Scotland to ensure those responsible are identified and dealt with accordingly -we have already initiated a deliberate fire reduction plan, working with our partners to identify causes and promote solutions to this issue.”
During the same timeframe, the number of accidental dwelling fires recorded in the area increased by 20 per cent.
In an effort to curb this increase, crews have carried out more than 6000 free home fire safety visits to help people remain safe in their homes.
Almost 300 accidental house fires were recorded between April 2017 and March 2018 and cooking activity was identified as the main cause.
LSO Keith said: “It is always disappointing to note an increase in accidental house fires.
“However, the number of casualties as a result of fire has decreased by 46% over the same period. This demonstrates that the greatly increased coverage of smoke detectors across Fife has resulted in householders being quickly alerted to fires allowing effective evacuation and an early intervention by fire service crews.
“Of those fires that did occur, our records suggest that being distracted while cooking is a significant contributing factor.
“That’s why it is so important that people never leave the kitchen unattended while they are cooking. “
LSO Keith continued: “We are committed to working towards reducing instances of accidental house fires.
“One of the corner stones of our preventative effort is our popular Home Fire Safety Visit initiative.
“Home Fire Safety Visits help reduce casualty numbers by ensuring the presence of a working smoke detector in your home and allow fire crews to assist householders with the development of a fire safety plan.
“We are keen to work with all members of our communities, particularly our more vulnerable citizens.
“I would urge everyone to take advantage of these visits and allow us to help keep them safe in their homes.”
For further information on arranging a free HSFV for you or a loved one then please go to our website www.firescotland.gov.uk.
Alternatively you can call 0800 0731 999 or text "FIRE" to 80800 from your mobile phone.