FIRE chiefs will launch a campaign this week aimed at keeping people safe in the build up to Bonfire Night.
New figures released by Cleveland Fire Brigade show that during October and November 2012 there were a total of 385 deliberate rubbish fires across Cleveland – many of which were unofficial bonfires.
These incidents of arson cost the Brigade a massive £758,480.
Firefighters will launch a campaign tomorrow urging people to “stay safe, not sorry”.
The scheme will run for four weeks and will involve other key organisations including Cleveland Police, North East Ambulance Service and local councils.
The campaign includes patrolling hot-spot areas in local communities, school visits, a poster competition, leaflets, diversionary activities for youngsters, leaflets and online activities.
Brigade bosses are also calling on local residents and businesses to play their part in reducing the number of incidents by following some simple advice.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Over the last few years we have been very successful in reducing the number of deliberate fires.
But the period leading up to, during and after Bonfire Night continues to be one of the busiest times of the year for us.
“The brigade will not relent in its efforts as once again we will be working closely with our key partners. Our message is quite simple – be safe not sorry.”
The brigade has issued the following safety tips:
Don’t get involved in unofficial bonfires;
Report any unofficial bonfires to your local council;
Attend an official fireworks display if you can
If you decide to hold your own firework display, always follow the Firework Code.
Mr Lancaster added: “Local residents and businesses have been extremely supportive in reporting unofficial bonfires and we appeal for their support once again to help us stop arson, because enough is enough.”
People can report unofficial bonfires or discarded rubbish in Hartlepool by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or ringing (01429) 523333 during office hours or (01429) 869424.
So far, the only official display in Hartlepool is the annual event at Seaton Carew seafront on Saturday. November 2.
If anyone has any information about arson or anti-social behaviour, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or the police on 101.