Fire chief spells out the deadly risk posed by rogue ‘Bonfire Night’ blazes

Deliberate fires over the Bonfire Night period saw firefighters deployed across Scotland almost 400 times a week last year. They responded to 1,307 incidents in the four weeks to November 5, when fire appliances were mobilised almost 1,500 times.

Sunday, 27th October 2019, 3:39 pm

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, who is 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.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart.

“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.”

He 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 1,307 total deliberate fires attended, this included 1,117 secondary fires in grassland, or on 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 where 1,454 deliberate fires were recorded.

ACO Haggart added: “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.

“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.”

Anyone with information about deliberate fire-raising should contact the free and confidential Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.

For advice on how to stay safe during Bonfire Night, visit - /your-safety/bonfire-safety.aspx