Parents asked to help reduce outdoor fires this summer

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is urging parents and guardians to talk to their children about the dangers of setting fires to help prevent deliberate outdoor fires this summer.

Last year, the fire service was called to 4,390 outdoor fires, 1,247 of these fires were started deliberately, and a further 849 fires were recorded as being possibly started deliberately.

Arson Prevention Lead Officer, Andre Turner from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “Deliberate fires take up a large amount of our firefighters’ time. Our fire crews could be putting out these avoidable fires when they should be helping someone whose life may be in danger at a house fire or road traffic collision.

“If you are a parent or guardian, you can help by keeping matches and lighters out of reach and talking to your children about the dangers of starting fires.”

The fire service is working to tackle deliberate outdoor fires by visiting schools to talk to children about arson and how starting a small fire can cause devastating damage to the environment, wildlife and puts lives at risk. The lessons are all available online for anyone to access on the fire service’s website: www.essex-fire.gov.uk/education.

The fire service is also encouraging parents to get in touch with them if they see their children showing fire setting behaviours.

Andre added: “Many children and young people have a fascination with fire, but for some this fascination can take a dangerous turn and lead to fire setting. This is where our Juvenile Fire Setters Scheme can help.

“The free scheme is run by our trained advisors who can offer help and support which help deters children from future fire-setting behaviours. Get in touch in confidence with us by emailing: [email protected].”

There are also actions that communities can take to reduce the opportunities of arson. Arsonists rarely bring materials to burn with them as they use what they can find around them. So here are the fire service’s tips to reduce the risk of arson: 

  • Do not allow rubbish to build up around premises and clean up regularly 
  • If possible, restrict access to where waste is stored – keep temptation out of sight 
  • Try not to overfill bins and keep them securely shut 
  • Store bins away from buildings, where possible, to prevent the spread of fire 
  • For communal bin stores, keep doors shut and follow the property management instructions 
  • For properties with communal areas, e.g. purpose built flats, keep these areas clear of rubbish and do not use this area to store anything – keep your exits clear 
  • Consider security lighting 
  • Skips should be located away from the property and collection should be arranged as soon as it has been filled 
  • Ensure any debris and litter is removed from under trees and shrubs, particularly during dry periods 

Communities can also help by being vigilant and keeping an eye out for any suspicious behaviour, so if you spot anything that causes you concern, call the police.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]