Fires fall after Telford estate walkabouts

A scheme by fire and police to introduce joint “walkabouts” on Telford housing estates has seen a dramatic fall in incidents of deliberate fires.

Risk Reduction Officers from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service joined Community Support Officers from Telford Police to tour housing estates where crime and vandalism had been reported.

Kate Hancocks and Shane Gazey are employed by the brigade to reduce fires, reassure the public after a fire, and get out fire safety messages to prevent fires in the home and deliberate arson incidents.

In Brookside there were 96 deliberate fires in more than eight months last year. But as a result of the successful joint action, fires have fallen dramatically to less than 20 in 2012.

Because of the high number of fires last year, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service set up the “walkabout” trial with police Community Support Officers in April this year.

They meet up with youngsters at the skate park, Youth Shelter, and local shopping centre in Brookside during not only daytime but evening walkabouts as well. Other estates in the Telford area have also been visited.

“Youngsters now know the Risk Reduction Officers from the fire service and come and talk to us if there is a deliberate arson attack anywhere,” said Kate, who helped to initiate the scheme.

“Community Support Officers are already very well known in the areas but we thought it would be good to join them and talk to as many people as possible in the area about fire safety.

“We report any fly tips that we see to Telford and Wrekin Council which clears them up quickly and then they do not become targets for deliberate fires.

“There was an incident recently when cardboard abandoned under a tree was set alight on Brookside.”

“It is working really well and people like to see us in their area and come and talk to us,” added Kate.

11th September, 2012