Teamwork helping to win arson battle

Back row L - R - Fire Brigade Graeme Wright, Neil Roberts, Mark Fitzgerald, Colin Evans, Mike Collins. Front row L - R - Police Andrew Pickering and Ian Calvert

A joint initiative between Cleveland Fire Brigade and Cleveland Police to tackle arson which involves firefighters and police officers getting on their bikes is proving to be a big success.

During the school summer holidays fire and police personnel have been carrying out joint bicycle patrols in the Redcar & Cleveland area as part of a major push to stamp out arson.

There have also been joint patrols on Eston Hills involving police on scrambler motorbikes and the Brigade’s UNIMOG – a specialised off-road vehicle that can cover uneven terrain and be used to extinguish fires.

Figures show that during the school summer holidays last year (2011) there were 17 fire incidents on Eston Hills, but so far this year there has only been one incident.

The patrols are aimed at reducing the number of deliberate grass and rubbish fires and other similar nuisance problems by increasing the emergency services’ presence in the area. They also help identify targets for arsonists such as piles of rubbish which can easily be set alight.

As well as Eston Hills other hotspot areas targeted by bike patrols in the Redcar & Cleveland area include Bankfields, Grangetown, Eston, South Bank, Dormanstown, Newcomen, Coatham and Kirkleatham.

Steve Harll, Redcar Station Manager said: “This is a great example of the Fire Brigade and the Police working closely together to tackle a specific problem in our local community.

“Being on bikes means we are far more accessible and approachable to the public, and are in a great position to spot potential problems. Using bikes means we can also reach areas that are difficult to access in fire engines.”

Cleveland Police Acting Chief Inspector Guy Hall said: “This joint initiative with Cleveland Fire Brigade enables us to carry out pro-active patrols and combat issues affecting residents. We want to ensure that by working in partnership we can not only educate and take action against those responsible, but also enable people to enjoy the local area without being subject to anti-social behaviour.”

Figures revealed recently showed that arson is responsible for three-quarters of fire-related incidents inClevelandand cost local taxpayers an average of £321,524 per week last year.

Help us put a stop to arson because ‘Enough is Enough’. Anyone with information about suspected arsonists should ring the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you want to remain anonymous.