Cleveland Fire Brigade is urging residents to “Be safe not sorry” this bonfire season after new figures show there was a 32 per cent increase in deliberate fires in the town last year.
From October 15 to November 12 last year, deliberate refuse fires cost Hartlepool £82,000.
The brigade is reminding the public and in particular young people that unofficial bonfires are classed as arson and anyone found deliberately setting fires could end up with a criminal record.
Fire crews will be working together with Cleveland Police and councils for the next four weeks on initiatives including patrolling hot-spot areas, school visits and removing bonfire rubbish.
Ian Hayton, chief fire officer said: “These unofficial bonfires cause a nuisance to local people and ultimately cost the community money. They also tie up fire engines that should be undertaking vital life-saving prevention work or attending real emergencies. We want to be clear – unofficial bonfires are classed as arson incidents. Not only could they lead to criminal records they are inherently dangerous. Rubbish fires can spread quickly and the consequences can be horrific for anyone caught in the flames, so please don’t get involved in unofficial bonfires or let your children attend one.
“If you spot an unofficial bonfire being built please call us on 01429 872311 and we will work with local councils to remove the danger.”
Chief superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, of Cleveland Police, added: “We want the public to work with us to ensure those who are intent on causing criminal damage are reported to police. I am urging the public not to tolerate fire setting in their community and report any incidents immediately. We will be carrying out additional patrols over this busy period.”