Summer Arson Warning

16th June, 2008

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is taking action to combat a sharp increase in arson attacks each Summer.

Last Summer there were more than 500 arson incidents in the county between June to September including 56 property fires and 74 vehicle fires.

There are more deliberate fires during the warm weather as holidaymakers leave their properties unprotected and at risk, said Andy Perry, Fire Crime Reduction Officer for the Shropshire brigade.

But Shropshire firms and householders can take action to prevent the attacks on their property, he said.

To combat the annual increase, the brigade is recruiting a fire crime officer in line with other fire and rescue services across the UK. The officer will work closely with police and local authorities to reduce the incidents of arson in both busy towns and the Shropshire countryside.

Together they will be looking at how to deal with empty properties which attract graffiti, vandalism, deliberate fires and other anti-social behaviour.

"We haven't got to wait for a crime to happen. We are being proactive by taking action to reduce the number of empty properties which attract this sort of anti social offence which can tragically kill people. There were two deaths caused by fire in an empty property in Staffordshire last year," said Mr Perry.

As part of the anti arson campaign, a series of hard hitting posters urging the public not to "fuel" the arsonists will be displayed on the brigade Outreach vehicle as it visits fire crime spots.

Firefighters are also leaflet dropping homes and business premises where there is the potential for an arson attack by looking at risks to the premises including combustibles too close to buildings, overflowing rubbish and other fire hazards in a bid to get their message over.

Arson is an increasing problem and the largest single cause of major fires.

Bosses are urged to have a "good shutdown procedure" by getting rid of anything which can be set alight, and remove skips and bins away from properties.

Householders should lock sheds and outbuildings, don't let packaging, waste or rubbish accumulate outside, put out rubbish for collection as late as possible and not overnight, consider external security lighting and "most importantly" have a working smoke alarm fitted.

If people see anything suspicious they should report it to the police or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Barbecue injuries also increase in the Summer and people are urged never to pour flammable liquids onto lighted coals. Dry grassland and crops are also in danger of fire during the warm weather from carelessly discarded cigarettes or from children deliberately starting a blaze which quickly spreads.