How the pandemic has impacted on fires in Hartlepool, for better and worse

Hartlepool has seen a rise in accidental house fires over the past year, but a decrease in deliberate blazes, according to figures.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:16 pm
An area of grassland at Summerhill Country Park that was set on fire in March.

Cleveland Fire Brigade bosses noted similar trends in figures were recorded across the region, but warned incident numbers from across the last year will have been impacted by Covid-19.

The latest meeting of Cleveland Fire Authority Audit and Governance Committee heard between March 2020 and April 2021 there were 3,201 deliberate fires across the region.

This was a reduction of 522, or 14% compared to the previous year.

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Cleveland Fire Brigade's chief fire officer Ian Hayton

In Hartlepool there were 564 deliberate fires recorded, down 7% and 42 incidents compared to 2019/20.

Similar decreases were also seen across the region, however chief fire officer Ian Hayton warned tackling arson is still a key issue for the region, with over 85% of fires in Cleveland being deliberate.

He said it was vital all agencies worked together to tackle the problem, and stressed the sweeping impact of the pandemic in terms of incidents and services.

He said: “We know we cannot solve it ourselves, it’s a multi-agency response to arson to actually address that issue.”

It came after he warned earlier in the meeting Covid-19 and associated restrictions would have had an impact on the incident figures recorded over the past year.

Mr Hayton added: “While it’s a one-year profile in relation to performance, the things that I think we need to bear in mind of course is they are heavily Covid affected.

“We’ve got to be extremely careful in relation to long-term picture challenges, in terms of planning for the future.”

With residents spending more time in homes over the period due to Covid-19 restrictions, the number of accidental dwelling fires across Cleveland increased.

In Hartlepool there were a total of 31 accidental house fires, up 19% from 26 the previous year.

Overall in Cleveland there were 160 accidental dwelling fires recorded across the region, an increase of five from the previous year.

However, fire brigade chiefs stressed overall in Cleveland they have the second lowest rate of accidental dwelling fires in the country, and the fourth highest rate of home fire safety visits.

Tim Graham, head of risk and performance, said: “We complete a very high rate of home fire safety visits and the benefit is a low rate of accidental dwelling fires.

“We have consistently had very low rates of accidental dwelling fires and very high rates of home fire safety visits over the last 10 years.”

Stockton saw an increase of three accidental dwelling fires compared to the previous year, to a total of 51, while Middlesbrough saw a rise from 46 to 54.

However in Redcar and Cleveland the number dropped from 35 to 25.

All three regions saw a decrease in deliberate fires, with 1,160 incidents recorded in Middlesbrough, down 165 from the previous year.

In Stockton there were 633 deliberate fires recorded, down 98 from the previous year, while in Redcar and Cleveland there were 844, a drop of 20% and 217 incidents.

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