Surge in deliberate fires reported


- Credit: Archant

Last year’s hot summer saw an increase in the number of fires deliberately started across Avon and Somerset.

Avon Fire Authority – which overseas the Portishead-based Avon Fire & Rescue Service – has admitted it was not ready for the scorching temperatures which it feels contributed to the rise in secondary fires.

Secondary fires include rubbish and grass fires and other fires that do not involve buildings or vehicles that are fit for use.

In the last nine months of 2018, 953 deliberate secondary fires were recorded across the fire service’s area.

A report prepared by the Chief Fire Officer for the Avon Fire Authority highlights: “The high number of deliberate secondary fires (excluding vehicles) recorded in July and to a lesser extent August.

“It is likely that this is due to the extreme weather experienced.”

Presenting the report to the authority’s performance review and scrutiny committee, an officer said: “The issue we had was the long hot summer.

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“It’s the first time we’ve had one of those for a few years and I think, if anything, we weren’t as prepared as we possibly should have been, but we will be prepared for next year if it happens again.”

The officer said an ‘action plan’ has been devised to deal with the next hot summer based on an analysis of the locations, times and causes of last summer’s arsons.

He added: “We’ve got a toolkit together of things that we can do.”

“The interventions range from officer patrols in areas known as arson hotspots to putting up barriers to prevent cars being driven into areas where they can then be set alight. “So it’s things like rubbish clearance, arson drive routes, certainly liaising with neighbourhood watch and with beat managers to try and identify where problems have happened before and try and prevent those problems from happening again.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rob Davis added the fire service also received information about weather-related risks based on long-range forecasts from the Met Office.

Last summer saw temperatures regularly reach 30C and saw grassland scorched due to a lack of water.