Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews were mobilised to a total of 4,287 incidents of deliberate fire-raising between March and April 2021.
The figures have been released to coincide with the launch of the service’s #SpringSafety campaign.
This is an increase of 71 per cent on the year before, when SFRS crews were turned out to 2,493 needless emergency incidents.
The data shows how deliberate fires in Spring last year included 582 in the city of Glasgow (an increase of 54% on 2020) and 337 in Edinburgh (up 71%).
Other notable year-on-year increases included a 209% rise in the Perth, Kinross, Angus and Dundee area (up from 130 to 402); 94% rise in East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde (up from
188 to 364); and 86% in Falkirk and West Lothian (up from 190 to 354). [See full regional year-on-year breakdown below]
The 4,287 deliberate fires were largely comprised of outdoor incidents impacting fields, refuse, and countryside, but also involved hundreds of building and vehicle fires.
This behaviour could place lives at risk, warned Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Alasdair Perry, Head of Prevention and Protection for SFRS.
DACO Perry said: “We take a zero-tolerance approach to deliberate fire-raising and it is a small minority of individuals who are potentially putting themselves, our firefighters and innocent bystanders at risk of serious harm and injury.
“Make no mistake – fire can cause injury and death, it can be devastating to properties, businesses and the environment.
“Last year, we witnessed a shocking rise in deliberate fire-raising during the Spring period. The fact that our firefighters are called to thousands of deliberately set fires each year is completely unacceptable.
“These incidents are a needless drain on our resources and can impact on our response to genuine emergencies.”
DACO Perry warned that the SFRS will continue to do everything in its power to help Police Scotland trace those risking the safety of communities across Scotland.
He said: “It absolutely goes without saying that we want to prevent fires – not fight fires.
“As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages, and parents, guardians and carers can also help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks.
“But let me be very clear – we operate a strict zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire-raising. It is a criminal offence and can have devastating consequences.
“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to provide evidence that will ensure those responsible are identified and held to account for their actions.”
Anyone with information about deliberate fire-raising should contact the free and confidential Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.
Young people can also contact Fearless – a reporting line for young people who have their own concerns which is completely anonymous.
More information is available at: https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/outdoors/deliberate-fires/