Rise in deliberate fires in north east Fife

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There has been a rise in the number of deliberate fires started in north east Fife.

Figures presented by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to local councillors this week, showed that the number of deliberate primary fires – categorised as ones involving property – had gone from 18 in 2017-18 to 20 in 2018-19.

Most were registered in the East Neuk and Landward and Tay Bridgehead wards.

There was also a jump in the number of deliberate secondary fires – often minor, such as the burning of rubbish and grass – up from 34 in 2017-18 to 43 in 2018-19.

Most of these were in the Howe of Fife and Tay Coast and Tay Bridgehead wards.

The SFRS said it is targeting education and prevention activities to teach people about the dangers and consequences of deliberate fire raising. It is also working with police and Fife Council to help identify those responsible.

Both sets of figures are above the four-year averages.

Chief inspector Steven Hamilton, area commander for north east Fife, said: “These stats show that the fire service were called to 11 additional deliberate fires in 2019 compared to 2018, which required vital emergency resources that could have been needed elsewhere.

“Thankfully, no one was seriously injured during these incidents however every intentional fire is unacceptable and recklessly puts people’s safety at risk.

“Tackling antisocial behaviour, including fireraising, remains one of the top priorities locally.

“Local officers continue to work closely with our colleagues in fire and education to raise awareness of the dangers of fireraising and the potential consequences of this within schools, in particular.”

Chief inspector Hamilton continued: “Officers will also look to conduct high visibility patrols in areas where deliberate fires have occurred and carry out further prevention work with the local community.

“Where wilful fireraising is found to have taken place, enquiries will be conducted and robust enforcement action will be taken against those established to be responsible.”

While deliberate fires have increased, the figures showed accidential fires have decreased, from 56 to 33 in 2019.