Don’t become a victim of arson, say firefighters

AF&RS logoAvon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is supporting a national campaign to help people reduce the risk of being targeted by arsonists.

Between April 2013 and March 2014 AF&RS dealt with 1,591 deliberate fires.

On Saturday 3 May, during a period of industrial action, AF&RS resilience crews dealt with 11 separate deliberate fires involving cars and property in the Southmead and Henbury areas of Bristol.

The Arson Prevention Forum has issued ten tips to help reduce the risk of arson.

AF&RS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Mick Dixon, said: “Arson can be extremely dangerous as fire can spread very quickly, destroying property and endangering lives.

“When AF&RS is called to a deliberately set fire, it ties up our fire engines which could be needed to attend an emergency elsewhere.

“There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of being targeted by arsonists, including only putting rubbish and recycling out on the day of collection, keeping waste stored outside or in wheelie bins away from property and making sure litter doesn’t build up in shrubs and hedges.

“We work closely with the police to investigate deliberately set fires and anyone found guilty of arson-related behaviour could face a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

“If you witness anyone deliberately lighting a fire you can report them anonymously through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”

Chairman of the Arson Prevention Forum, Lee Howell, said: “Every year there are too many deliberate fires, some of which result in serious injury as well as causing millions of pounds worth of damage to property.

“Arson is a crime and whilst arson activity is falling, it causes untold misery to those it affects. By working together, police, fire services and insurers aim to reduce the level of arson still further but we need individuals and businesses to be aware of the risks and do something about them.”

Reducing the risk of arson:

  • Ensure you include the impact of arson in your workplace fire risk assessment. A large percentage of businesses fail to return to trading following a fire.
  • Schools can be soft targets for arson. The impact on both the local community and pupils is potentially devastating. Speak to your local police crime prevention officer, they may be able to offer advice as to how you can protect your building.
  • Report accumulated or abandoned refuse to your local council. Don’t let it become a target for arson.
  • Anti-social behaviour is often a precursor to arson. Report such behaviour through your local neighbourhood policing team, neighbourhood watch team or through Crimestoppers.
  • Protect your commercial property. Seek advice on security, good lighting and CCTV as these will often act as a deterrent to a criminal.
  • When closing down your business adopt a thorough closedown procedure making sure external doors are locked, internal doors are closed, no unauthorised persons are left on the premises, alarms are switched on and there is no rubbish or waste left lying around.
  • Take responsibility and think of ways in which someone could start a fire inside or outside your property. Act on any issues you find.
  • Arson attacks on farms and small holdings do happen. Take simple precautions to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Lighting around barns and outbuildings will deter the opportunist thief and the would-be arsonist.
  • If you are a parent or a guardian and you discover a child who has been playing with matches within the home, you can contact the AF&RS Firesetters Team.
  • Visit the AF&RS website your local fire station for more advice.