Firefighters called out to 400 deliberate fires a week

Bonfire Night, and the weeks leading up to it, is the busiest time of the year for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Bonfire Night, and the weeks leading up to it, is the busiest time of the year for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Deliberate fires over the Bonfire Night period saw fire appliances across Scotland mobilised almost 400 times a week in 2018.

Firefighters responded to 1307 such incidents in the four weeks leading up to November 5, 2018 – causing fire appliances to be mobilised almost 1500 times.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Director of Prevention and Protection.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Director of Prevention and Protection.

And dedicated Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews responded to 338 fires on November 5 alone – with Operations Control rooms handling more than 700 phone calls from the public.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart, SFRS director of prevention and protection, said: “Our firefighters and fire appliances are being mobilised to hundreds of completely avoidable incidents every year during the Bonfire Night period.

“A small minority of individuals are potentially putting themselves, our firefighters and innocent bystanders at risk of serious harm and injury.

“These incidents are a needless drain on our resources when we need to focus on responding to real emergencies, where lives might very well be at risk.”

ACO Haggart added: “We will continue to work with our communities to remind them of the dangers but equally in close partnership with our police and local authority partners to ensure that those responsible are identified and held to account for their actions.”

Crews across Scotland together clocked more than 24 hours attending the scene of deliberate fires every day during the four week period, with fire appliances mobilised from stations an average of more than 60 occasions each day.

Of the 1307 total deliberate fires attended, this included 1117 secondary fires within grassland, open ground or refuse and 190 primary fires, such as those within a house or business.

Despite this, there was an overall reduction from the same period in 2017, when 1454 deliberate fires were recorded.

ACO Haggart outlined how prevention and education is key to community safety.

The senior SFRS officer said: “We take great pride in working at the very heart of our communities to help keep people safe and I am pleased to see the continued reduction in the number of deliberate fires.

“We make every effort to reach out to young people wherever possible to equip them with the tools and the knowledge to stay safe and provide them with a real insight into the potentially devastating consequences of fire.

“However, we will never be complacent and we will continue to remind people that deliberate fire setting is a crime and that a criminal record can affect future life and job opportunities – a price that can be easily avoided.”