Region sees rise in deliberate fires

Firefighters responded to 426 deliberate blazes from October to March
Firefighters responded to 426 deliberate blazes from October to March

Deliberate fires have shot up in Falkirk district over the past year, latest figures have revealed.

The number of non-domestic, false alarms and non-fire emergencies in the region also rose — to the highest they have been for five years.

A meeting of Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee last Thursday heard there were 426 blazes deemed to have been secondary fires, started on purpose between October 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018 compared to 383 the previous year.

The majority of those involved woodland, grasslands or refuse, including wheelie bins.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended 100 deliberate secondary blazes during this time, the equivalent to 69 per cent of all deliberate fires in the region.

Crews were called to 96 non-domestic fires, which the SFRS classes as any that take place in a building that isn’t a household. This was an increase of 30 per cent (64) on the previous reporting period.

Forty-three per cent of incidents were recorded as taking place within secure accommodation, while a further eight per cent took hold in garden sheds.

Firefighters had to deal with more false alarms (1221) during this time than in the previous five years when the highest figure was 1183 in 2016/17.

Non-fire emergencies also increased, going up slightly from 394 last year to 397.

However, there were reductions in 2017/18 in both the number of accidental dwelling fires (105) from 107 year-on-year and fire casualties, 27 compared to 34 the year before — two of which were fatal and took place in the Braes and Grangemouth.

In total, the district’s firefighters responded to 2394 incidents in 2017/18 — up five per cent on 2016/17.
The service also carried out 1783 home safety visits in medium or high risk-rated premises.

Addressing councillors as he discussed the statistics, David Lockhart, local senior officer for Falkirk, said: “It shows our services are even more required now than they have been in the past. I think the variety of incidents we will respond to in the future will only grow.

“There was a slight decrease in accidental dwelling fires, which were mainly cooking-related with food being left unsupervised being the main cause of fires in the home. 
Unfortunately there were two fatal fires. We’re about to begin case conferences into both to see what lessons there are to be learned.”