FIRE chiefs have revealed the number of accidental house fires has been slashed by a staggering 69 per cent over the last 10 years - saving the local economy £8m.
Senior officers from Cleveland Fire Brigade say the number of incidents and deliberate fires across the Cleveland area have also been cut by more than 70 per cent between 2003 and 2013.
Figures show the number of accidental house fires has been cut from 512 - at a total cost of £12.8m - down to 161 accidental house fires costing just over £4m this year.
The average house fire costs £25,000 and fire chiefs say the preventative work carried out by the force and other partners has helped save £8m to the local economy.
Les Jones, head of community safety at Cleveland Fire Brigade, presented the latest figures to the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, which is chaired by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Mr Jones said in 2002-03 Cleveland Fire Brigade attended 9,288 incidents across the region but that was down to 2,609 this year, a reduction of 72 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of deliberate fires has also been slashed by 78 per cent, down from 8,262 in 2002-03 to 1,829 in 2012-13.
Mr Jones said: “The reductions are absolutely fantastic over a relatively short period of time.
“That is a fantastic achievement and testament to the work of the fire brigade and our partners and focusing work on some of the areas most at risk.”
The presentation outlined some of the reasons why the figures have been cut including 180,000 home fire safety visits carried out in total plus 37,000 young people engaged with and educated about the dangers of fire and 4,300 people vulnerable to a fire in the home helped in the last year alone.
Over the past decade, 300,000 smoke alarms have been fitted and the brigade’s Stay Safe and Warm initiative boosted while the Cleveland Fire Support Network established in 2007 now has more than 150 volunteers helping to spread fire safety advice information.
Mr Jones told members of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership that the reduction in the number of fires shows the importance of the prevention work done by firefighters.
He added: “More preventative work needs to be done to reduce these costs further.”