Call for people to aid fight against fire in Isles

Wildfires can be a problem for the fire service in the drier months.
Wildfires can be a problem for the fire service in the drier months.

The area’s most senior fire officer is asking the public to help ensure the Western Isles are as safe as possible from preventable fires this Spring season.

As we move towards the Spring and into the Easter holidays, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney, Billy Wilson, is urging the public to do what they can to prevent fire.

During the months of March and April the service traditionally sees an increase in the number of deliberate fires across the country, compared to the rest of the year.

These fires present a danger to life, property and can have a detrimental financial impact on the local economy.

In March and April 2014 there were 2384 deliberate fires across Scotland and whilst the totals are down significantly from a high of 4677 in March and April of 2011, it shows that although SFRS is making a considerable impact there is still much work to be done to reduce the number of fires further.

The service will work together with partner agencies such as Police Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Crimestoppers Scotland to prevent fires and the police in highlighting the need to report fire offending.

Local Senior Officer Billy Wilson said: “We want to ensure the Easter break period is an enjoyable one for everyone, but it’s equally importantly that people remain safe from fire.

“Over the next few months we’ll typically see an increase in the amount of deliberate fires and fly-tipping. SFRS is appealing, in particular to young people as they go on school holidays for the Easter break, to consider the consequences of deliberately setting a fire.”

LSO Wilson added: “We would urge parents to ensure that their children know about and understand the potentially tragic consequences deliberate fires can have, as well as the impact for responding emergency services.

“As we enter the time of year where we typically see warmer weather we would also expect to see an increase in the amount of woodland, grass and forest fires.

“Our crews work hard to provide education and advice about the risks and also respond when fires do break out. The public can help them to keep people safe by heeding our safety advice and sharing it with others. Many fires, including rubbish, refuse, grass, fly-tipping and wildfires in the countryside are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour.

“Fire setting is an offence – don’t accept it, report it. If you suspect someone of acting suspiciously, recklessly or irresponsibly call Scotland Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or call Police Scotland on 101.”

Cllr Norman Macleod, Chair of Environment and Protective Service Committee at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “Fly-tipping is not only illegal, but it’s extremely dangerous – unmonitored waste is a fire hazard for our communities and I’d urge the public to use only council run recycling centres and dumps.”

”Fly-tipping is a serious issue and as such we’ll work together with SFRS to identify hotpots and tackle offending. I’d urge the public to report large amounts of waste at www.dumbdumpers.org or call the stop line on 08452 30 40 90.

“Our co-ordinated multi-agency approach will ensure that we keep the public safe as we enter the Spring season.”

There is a host of information available online now at www.firescotland.gov.uk, but as ever, we welcome the public to get in touch with their local stations to ask for advice.

Chief Inspector Gordon MacLeod said: “The setting of deliberate fires can be extremely dangerous and it is disappointing that over the spring period the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service face an increase in outdoor fires. This is all the more disappointing when many of these fires have been started deliberately.

“Wilful fire-raising is something we take very seriously and we work closely with SFRS to ensure that offenders are identified and reported.

“We will continue to work closely with the SFRS to tackle wilful fire-raising and would urge that anyone who sees suspicious behaviour contacts Police Scotland.”

SFRS need the public to take action now and Join Scotland’s Fight Against Fire – book a free Home Fire Safety Visit today by calling freephone 0800 0731 999, texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or visiting us online at www.firescotland.gov.uk