As the light nights start to set in, Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service have launched a campaign to reduce the number of fires started deliberately during the Spring months.
Not only do the anti-social behaviour fires cause damage to property, the environment and tie up firefighters unnecessarily but they can also cause injuries and deaths, and what may seem like a bit of fun can quickly spread and endanger lives.
Group Manager Dave Jefferson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “The busiest time of year for anti-social behaviour fires is actually April.
“Most people think its November, when we are busy with the Bonfire period, but that’s not the case, although that is our next busiest time.
“Once the clocks change and we have lighter nights we see a real increase in these types of fires. They accounted for 77 per cent of all fire calls we attended during April 2013 and we saw a peak between 7pm and 8pm.
The increase also coincides with the Easter School holidays. We work closely with our partners such as the local authorities and the police to tackle the issue of setting fires deliberately, as it is criminal offence.”
Most of the fires occur on grassland, woodland, waste land, in fields, parks and playgrounds and are usually started by people setting fire to rubbish, grass, fly tipping, hedges and fences.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will be working closely with each of the five local authorities to carry out clean ups to get rid of any rubbish or fly tipping. The campaign will also remind residents to only put their bins out on the morning of their collection and to bring them back in again straight afterwards, to avoid them being a target. Fire officers will be carrying out talks at schools in areas where there are particular issues with anti-social behaviour fires.
In North Tyneside Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is working with Northumbria Police and North Tyneside Council to clean up hot spot areas in housing estates and business areas.
Fire officers will be offering free home safety checks to people in the areas to help keep them safe from fire.
They are also working with Gibber Theatre Company who will be delivering a play in secondary schools throughout North Tyneside, highlighting the consequences of anti-social behaviour.