The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is urging the public to join in their fight against the threat of deliberate fires.
Spring is typically a time of year when there is an increase in the number of deliberate secondary fires reported due to antisocial behaviour, drier weather and additional daylight hours.
These range from rubbish and refuse fires to vehicles being set ablaze.
Latest figures reveal a total of 12,275 such incidents were reported over 2015/16 marking an increase on the previous year when it stood at 11,167.
Deliberately set fires are dangerous; they waste time and money and keep SFRS crews away from real emergencies.
They place an unnecessary burden on SFRS resources, in what is already a busy time of year for firefighters.
SFRS Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, Director of Prevention & Protection, said: “Our primary concern is always the welfare of everyone in Scotland and we want people to enjoy a safe Easter break.
“Unfortunately, at this time of year, we typically see an increase in the number of deliberate fires set across the country.
“This illegal activity is not only reckless but also prevents our crews from attending real emergencies.”
According to the latest SFRS incident statistics, published last October, there were 2,297 reports of deliberate secondary fires in Glasgow City, 1,505 in North Lanarkshire and 1,309 in Edinburgh.
This is compared to no reports in the Shetland Islands, a single incident in Orkney and five in the Western Isles.
ACO McGown added: “It’s important people understand the dangers and consequences of this unacceptable behaviour.
“Firefighters continue to engage with local communities and work closely with partners in an effort to reduce the number of incidents.
“We are working proactively, visiting schools and community groups to help those who are involved in firesetting realise that their actions can have very serious consequences. But while we are determined to engage with and influence those individuals who may set fires, we would also encourage the community to help.
“Today, I urge people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
“Fire-setting is an offence – don’t accept it, report it.”
There are a number of ways the public can help prevent deliberate fires from taking hold such as:
– Be aware of strangers loitering in your street – if they do so for some time, inform Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101.
– Contact Police Scotland via the non-emergency number 101 to share information on anyone who deliberately sets fires. Alternatively, give the information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
– Report any build-up of rubbish to your local authority or community fire station. This will help ensure it can be removed and prevent fires.
– Ensure you are aware of where the children or young people you look after are – and what they’re doing.
– Make sure that children and young people are aware of the risks of playing with fire and the consequences of deliberately setting a fire.
– Report any fly-tipping directly to your local authority or to the National Dumb Dumpers Stop line on 0845 230 40 90.