Arson – Don’t accept it. Report it, say firefighters

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is supporting Arson Awareness Week, (Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March) a national campaign to help people reduce the risk of being targeted by arsonists.

AF&RS firefighters will be delivering letters to Bristol residents in Hartcliffe and Withywood to encourage everyone to play their part in tackling fire related crime.

Arson accounts for almost half of all fires attended by the fire and rescue services and can have devastating effects in terms of its cost and consequences.

In 2014/15, 50 people in England died in fires that were started deliberately. Arson destroys lives and costs over £1 billion each and every year

If people know who is starting fires in their community and want to help without being identified, they can contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

If you see firesetting or suspicious activity involving fires please contact the police urgently by calling 999.

Group Manager for Risk Reduction at AF&RS, Matt Peskett, 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.”

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Notes for editors

Safety advice

Rubbish and waste is often the target of deliberate fire starters. There are a few steps you can follow that will reduce opportunities for a fire to be started at your property.
• Any waste or household rubbish should be stored securely away from the property, in an area the public can’t access. If this is not possible, waste should be stored away from windows, escape routes and vehicles. You may not find a perfect solution so try to consider the best compromise.
• Consideration can be given to wheelie bin locks and secure bin cupboards.
• Where possible only leave your bin out for the minimum amount of time needed for collection.
• If possible all boundary fences, hedges and walls should be kept in good condition to help keep your property secure. This is particularly important if you live close to a public footpath.
• The outside of your property should be kept tidy and free from rubbish and garden waste. These can be a potential target to arsonists.
• Sometimes fires are started to cover up a burglary. Ensure all property and outbuildings are locked and secure.
• Consider using additional devices such as security lights and CCTV which may reduce the risk of arson at your property.

Fly-tipped waste on the streets or in parks can be reported to 0117 922 2100 or online at www.bristol.gov.uk/streets-travel/street-care-and-cleaning

Build-up of waste in gardens or private land can be reported on 0117 922 2100. Streetscene Enforcement Officers will investigate and can serve notices requiring waste to be cleared by the occupier or landowner.

Disposal of bulky items, for example furniture, can be arranged by the bulky waste collection service on 0117 922 2100. The service costs £15 to remove up to three bulky items or 15 black bags, but may be free for people in receipt of benefits.