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