CLEVELAND Fire Brigade will be targeting the heart of local communities over the coming weeks in its latest bid to bring a halt to arson incidents.
It comes as figures released by the Brigade show that there were 2,681 deliberate incidents in the financial year ending on March 25th, costing local taxpayers more than £10.8 million.
Although the financial cost is massive, bosses at Cleveland Fire Brigade are using the Easter holidays to remind people that arson is also a crime which can easily result in death or injury and puts firefighters lives at risk and diverts them from real emergencies.
This year’s Easter Arson Campaign is intended to encourage local parents to know where their children are at all times and to look out for any signs of fire setting tendencies or behaviour, including the smell of smoke on their clothes.
Cleveland Fire Brigade is running the targeted campaign alongside Cleveland Police, with whom they have been working to help deter, identify and prosecute arsonists.
Over the Easter holidays the Brigade and Cleveland Police will have a high presence in a number of areas including Eston Hills, the Tilery area of Stockton, Norton and Hartlepool’s Old Cemetery Road.
Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Arson accounts for a huge number of fires across Cleveland and this is why the brigade continues to work closely with the police, other key organisations and local communities to put a stop to it once and for all.
“Arson ruins lives, communities and local businesses. We have just experienced one of the driest winters on record and if people deliberately start a fire outdoors it will spread very quickly, often destroying everything in its path.”
Inspector Chris Barker from Eston Neighbourhood Policing Team added: Fires can get out of control so easily. It’s absolutely mindless to set anything alight deliberately and it’s important that people are aware of the dangers, especially from a young age, so that they aren’t tempted to get involved in something that could so easily turn into a tragedy.
“This is an issue that affects the whole community and has the potential to have real and significant effects on local people’s lives. Police would ask parents to take the time to discuss these issues with their children and discourage them from becoming involved with or associating with those who start fires. We would also ask the community as a whole to continue to assist the authorities by continuing to provide information that they might have to help us to identify and deal with those responsible.”
If anyone wishes to report any suspected arsonists confidentially they should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, call the Police non emergency number 101.
To help keep you and your family safe from fire,the Brigade provides free Home Fire Safety Visits and will fit smoke alarms if needed. Call 01429 874063 to arrange a visit to your home and you will receive specific fire safety advice for you and your family.