Fire chief calls on parents and carers to rein in firebug kids in wake of increased number of blazes

Fire crews in East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde were called out to deal with an average of four deliberate fires every day last Summer according to statistics published by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

The figures state that firefighters were called out to deal with 293 incidents of deliberate fire starting from June 21, 2021 until August 23, 2021.

And it represents a worrying increase over the previous year, with the number of incidents almost doubling when compared to the same period in 2020, when there were 158 callouts.

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Fire chiefs say the incidents were mainly in relation to grass fires or waste fires, but also included attempts at burning down buildings and setting cars alight.

The figures have been branded as “unacceptable” by Area Commander David McCarrey, SFRS Local Senior Officer for East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Speaking to mark the launch of the #SaferSummer campaign, Area Commander McCarrey urged everyone to play their part in reducing the risk of fire – particularly parents and carers.

He said: “Deliberate fire-setting is as needless as it is unacceptable.

“While I’m keen not to stigmatize our young people, we can’t escape the fact that statistical data and evidence points to periods of time when schools are on holiday.

“I want our young people to enjoy their holidays but I want them to do it safely and be part of the solution to this challenge across our communities.

“We are proud of our educational and prevention work, but it is true that parents, carers, and members of the public can all help us here by engaging with young people and laying bare the costs and consequences of starting a fire.

“When a young person deliberately starts a fire, they are risking their safety, their future, and the welfare of others. Firefighters are also being dragged away from genuine emergencies.

“Our prevention work will continue across the country, but it goes without saying that we take deliberate fire-setting very seriously and will always work with our partners in Police Scotland to identify those responsible.”

Avoidable fires in the open are also on the rise with 156 fires involving grass, woodland or crops recorded during the same timeframe – up from 30 the previous summer, representing an increase of more than 400 per cent.

The SFRS say that fires in the open are often set deliberately or are caused by negligence and complacency, adding that they can cause huge damage to vast areas of landscape and wildlife and have the potential to burn for days.

Fires at Paisley beauty spot Gleniffer Braes in April provoked fire chiefs to issue a similar plea to parents and carers to help them prevent such incidents. A large patch of grass was on fire near Robertson Car Park on April 2 and on April 9, firefighters were called out again to deal with another incident in which large piles of trees were set alight.

And those incidents followed a wildfire that engulfed a large portion of the park on March 7.

LSO McCarrey added: “We understand that people will, of course, want to take to the countryside and holiday in Scotland this year. But please be careful and bear in mind that human behavior can drive the risk of fire down significantly.

“First and foremost, before lighting any outdoor fires, check for any restrictions or permissions required by the landowner and make sure you use a fire safe pit or container that can be properly extinguished before you leave.”

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