Cleveland Fire Authority urges clampdown on arson attacks with new ‘Flames Aren’t Games’ campaign

Fire authority bosses labelled arson attacks ‘a blight on the community’ and vowed to clampdown on incidents as part of their priorities for the coming year.

Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 5:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 5:24 pm
Clevelanbd Fire Authority headquarters at Queens Meadow in Hartlepool.

It came as Cleveland Fire Authority chiefs laid out their service plan priorities for 2019/20, one of which is to develop an arson reduction strategy after a rise in the number of incidents over the past year.

The fire authority will also be launching a ‘Flames Aren’t Games’ campaign during April/May this year, looking to clamp down on deliberate fires.

The campaign will target youngsters across Cleveland with support from community liaison officers and will feature social media and print materials.

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Figures previously presented to the fire authority stated from April 2018 to the end of January 2019 there was a 15% increase in deliberate fires across Cleveland.

In Hartlepool, there had been 124 more deliberate fires compared to the same period last year, a rise of 32% from 386, taking the total number of incidents in the town to 510.

Ian Hayton, chief fire officer, said at the latest Cleveland Fire Authority meeting they would work to clampdown on incidents and take legal action on those found responsible to ensure they face punishment.

He said: “At this moment in time roughly 85% of fire calls are down to arson or deliberate fire setting.

“Arson is a blight on our communities, it is an evil act and we will work with our enforcement partners to ensure that the full force of the law comes to bare.”

At the end of last month residents in Hartlepool were urged to support community safety staff in their drive to combat arson involving wheelie bins.

Staff from Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Fire Brigade and Cleveland Police worked in the Manor House Ward as part of national Arson Awareness Week, explaining how householders can prevent their bins from becoming a target for arson.

Mr Hayton also added another of Cleveland Fire Brigade’s priorities was clamping down on attacks on firefighters.

Last summer a trial was launched for firefighters to wear body worn cameras to capture video on any incidents, which will be evaluated this August to determine if the scheme will be made permanent.

Mr Hayton said: “This authority regrettably has a high rate of attacks on our firefighters, either verbally or physically.

“Quite clearly this tool is there to ensure that we pursue prosecution of individuals as and when is possible.

“If it is a positive evaluation then we will move forward with the full purchase.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service