Lockdown restrictions blamed for rise in deliberate fires in Falkirk district

An increase in deliberate fires in the Falkirk area was partly due to youngsters reacting to the restrictions of lockdown, councillors heard.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 8:52 am

The latest Fire & Rescue Service report to Falkirk Council’s Scrutiny Committee – covering April 1 2020 – March 31, 2021 – showed that deliberate fires remains a significant problem.

While the service’s target is to reduce deliberate fires by five per cent every year, councillors heard that the numbers have actually gone up.

In total, the service attended 393 – a rise from 341 the previous year.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Pic: Lisa Ferguson Firefighters attend a fire on George IV Bridge. The fire started early hours of this morning Fire crews have been tackling a large blaze which broke out at Edinburgh's George IV Bridge. Police Scotland closed several roads in the city's old town on Tuesday morning and said officers were assisting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service . The alarm was raised shortly after 6am by a cleaner at Edinburgh's Elephant House cafe - where JK Rowling penned her first Harry Potter book. It is believed the fire started in the Patisserie Valerie cafe next door. Elephant House owner David Taylor, said the fire had not spread to the building, but it had suffered smoke and water damage.

However, the report also pointed out that the trend over the past five years has been steadily downward.

Read More

Read More
Opinion: The aftermath of extreme weather such as Storm Arwen can be tough for m...

In the main, deliberate fires involve either wheelie bins, grassland or derelict buildings.

Local Senior Officer (LSO) for Falkirk & West Lothian, David Sharp, told councillors that the fire service would continue to work closely with partners including the police and local schools.

Police officers and schools would work to identify those involved and the fire service would then step in to educate them.

If necessary, the fire service will offer “one-to-one” engagement with people who are particularly high risk, in a bid to reduce offences.

Councillor John McLuckie asked if there was any way to change the material used for wheelie bins to make them less easy to set fire to.

LSO Sharp said: “You are right that wheelie bins do tend to be targeted so we always remind occupiers to put them out just before they are due to be picked up and then bring them back in.

“Unfortunately, it’s the contents that tend to be set alight and that melts the plastic, so I don’t think we have any scope to change the materials.”

He agreed that the lockdown had led to a bit of “kickback” from some groups of youths reacting to the strict restrictions.

“There might have been frustration vented once they got out during this particular period of time,” he told the scrutiny committee last week.

In most aspects of the annual report, however, the Falkirk service hit its targets and compared well with the rest of Scotland.

The number of accidental fires was down from 103 to 99.

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.