Firefighters have been called to tackle hundreds of needless fires across Dundee over the past year, latest figures reveal.
A total of 627 deliberate fires were reported to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service between April 2017 and January this year – an increase of 35 per cent on the same period from 2015.
This included 571 secondary fires, involving refuse, grassland and wheelie bins being set alight, and 56 deliberate fires at private and business premises.
Gordon Pryde is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Perth & Kinross, Angus and Dundee.
He said: “Deliberate fires put unnecessary pressure on firefighters when genuine emergencies arose and could have placed lives at risk.
“These incidents are completely unacceptable. Every deliberate fire has victims, costs – and consequences.
“Our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages in order to keep our communities as safe as possible.
“In addition, we ask local residents and businesses to ensure that rubbish does not accumulate outside their property and that wheelie bins are stored in a safe and secure area until collection.”
Anyone with information on deliberate fires can contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
LSO Pryde also welcomed the reduction in the number of accidental house fires in Dundee, down from 165 to 143 in the last year.
The number of fire-related casualties has also decreased from 39 to 24 during the same period – with firefighters carrying out a total of 481 Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) in the area.
The findings came to light in a report presented to Dundee City Council’s Community Safety and Public Protection Committee on Monday, April 23.
LSO Pryde hailed the reduction but urged residents to remain vigilant.
He said: “There is a clear link between fire-related casualties and accidental dwelling fires.
“That is why we make such a concerted effort in the provision of Home Fire Safety Visits to ensure everyone has adequate fire detection in place.
“We want everyone to be safe in their homes and cannot stress enough the importance of having a working smoke alarm.
“If fire breaks out, a smoke or heat alarm will give you valuable early warning to react and reach a place of safety. And, if you are sleeping, a working alarm could be absolutely vital.”
He added: “Scotland is changing, and the risks facing communities are changing.
“For example, we have an ageing population that will only rise significantly over the coming years.
“This will increase the number of people who are at risk of fire, and other forms of preventable harm within the home.
“We are always particularly keen to support the most vulnerable members of our communities to live safely within the home so if you have an elderly relative, neighbour or friend who you think could benefit from a visit, then please ensure to get in contact.”
LSO Pryde also highlighted The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s public consultation as it proposes to train and equip firefighters to meet new and emerging modern risks such as terror attack and severe weather related flooding.
He said: “We have seen a significant reduction in the number of accidental house fires, which is a clear result of our prevention work – but we are never complacent.
“On the whole fires are reducing, and we have a standing capacity that we can utilise to save more lives.
“We want to push the boundaries to offer the best service possible.”