Firefighters have been called to tackle hundreds of needless fires across South Lanarkshire over the past year, latest figures reveal.
A total of 757 deliberate secondary fires – incidents involving refuse, grassland and derelict property – were reported to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service between April 2017 and March this year.
That’s the lowest amount since the formation of the single service in 2013 – when firefighters responded to 1,143 deliberate secondary fires.
Alan Fairbairn is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for South Lanarkshire.
He said: “It is very pleasing to highlight this significant fall of more than 30 per cent over the last five years.
“This reduction is a clear result of our long-term preventative partnership working to address the close link between these incidents and anti-social behaviour.
“We welcome this continued fall in the number of needless fires our crews are being called to – but we are never complacent, and we will continue to make every effort to drive these figures down further.”
LSO Fairbairn added: “Deliberate fires put unnecessary pressure on firefighters when genuine emergencies arise, and could place lives at risk.
“Every deliberate fire has victims, costs – and consequences.
“We work closely with our partners to educate our communities on the dangers of deliberate fire-raising, and in tracing anyone involved in this unacceptable behaviour.
“We ask local residents and businesses to ensure that rubbish does not accumulate outside their property and that wheelie bins are stored in a safe and secure area until collection.”
Figures also showed a fall in the number of accidental house fires in the South Lanarkshire over the past three years.
A total of 243 such incidents were reported to the SFRS between April 2017 and March this year – down from 267 in 2014/15.
Speaking at a meeting with the Safer South Lanarkshire Board (SSLB), LSO Fairbairn said: “One of the ways we work to prevent fire from occurring is through our free home fire safety visits.
“A huge amount of work has gone into ensuring our crews are engaging with the most vulnerable in our communities, with invaluable support from our partners.
“We want everyone to be safe in their homes and cannot stress enough the importance of having a working smoke alarm.
“If fire breaks out, a smoke or heat alarm will give you valuable early warning to react and reach a place of safety. And, if you are sleeping, a working alarm could be absolutely vital.”
South Lanarkshire crews also attended more than 1,200 instances of unwanted fire alarm signals last year – a reduction of six per cent on the year before.
UFAS incidents occur when firefighters are called to an incident as a result of equipment failure, malicious false alarms, or false alarms with good intent.
LSO Fairbairn said: “Ensuring that businesses and duty holders manage their fire alarm systems effectively can help us reduce the number of unwanted fire alarm signals.
“UFAS can result in lost revenue for businesses and can present a risk of staff becoming complacent.
“It’s hugely important that people are aware of the consequences of firefighters making unnecessary blue light journeys.”