A north-east fire chief has issued a direct appeal for parents to speak to their children as deliberate blazes increase across the region.
Firefighters have been unable to carry out their usual visits to schools due to Covid restrictions, usually a crucial weapon in reducing the problem.
Members of the Buchan Area Committee heard this week that the number of deliberate fires recorded in the area have increased to 33.
The figures relate to the time between April and June this year, and are a jump from 27 in the same spell in 2020.
Deliberate Buchan fires a ‘needless drain on resources’
Local senior officer for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray, Bruce Farquharson, is now asking parents to make young people aware of the “risks and consequences” that fire-raising can bring.
He said: “Deliberate fires have the potential to cause injury and even death – or cause devastating damage to our environment and properties.
“They are a needless drain on emergency service resources at a difficult time.
“Our firefighters and community action teams have been and will continue to work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages.
“But as we cannot conduct school visits or engage with young people directly through clubs and groups at this time, I would ask parents, guardians, and carers to help.
“They can do this by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks and consequences of deliberate fire setting.”
Crews are also speaking to town centre traders, amid concerns that leaving rubbish outside can encourage firebugs.
Buchan fires detailed in report
Meanwhile station commander Jim Logan presented the latest fire service performance report to the Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday.
Between April 1 and June 30, a total of 144 incidents were recorded in Buchan.
He said there were 23 accidental fires, 27 non-fire emergencies and 52 false alarms.
Eight accidental dwelling fires were recorded, six of which were caused by cooking. Luckily no one was injured as a result.
The number of non-domestic fires in the area increased to 11 from eight last year with incidents occuring at HMP Grampian and manufacturing firms.
Crews called to more crashes
Buchan fire crews also attended 27 non-fire emergencies, such as car crashes, in this period compared to 23 at the same time last year.
Mr Logan said: “The figure just now is at its highest for some time and we are working closely with partners in Police Scotland and our prevention team on how we can help reduce this.
“We are now delivering some road safety campaigns, we had one at the Lido car park last week.
“And we’re looking now to start pushing these education programmes into the schools, which we are hoping will reduce those road traffic collisions and any other non-fire emergencies as we go forward.”
He added that there was a “big increase” in casulaties following road crashes.
Fire crews attended five collisions in Buchan between April and June – resulting in 10 casualties and one death.
Increase in road accidents inevitable
Mr Logan said the increase “was to be expected” though.
He added: “The roads were obviously a lot quieter during Covid, a lot of people were furloughed.
“The numbers, although still relatively low, are something that we have got a focus on.
“Through some of the projects that we are looking to stand up, we will be looking to ensure that figure comes back down.”