Vandals are putting lives at risk

Fire engine
Fire engine

Firefighters are forced to battle around 250 acts of wilful fire-raising across East Dunbartonshire each year.

New figures obtained by the Herald have revealed that around two thirds of all fires in the area are started deliberately.

A total of 1,491 fires have been recorded over the last four years, with 997 ruled to have been started intentionally.

With a proportion of 66.7 per cent, East Dunbartonshire has a higher wilful fire rate than the national average, set at 60.9 per cent.

Area commander Paul Connelly, the SFRS local senior officer for East Dunbartonshire, said: “The fact that most of these fires were started deliberately is extremely concerning.

“A fire is out of control from the moment it begins and people who deliberately set them simply cannot know what the consequences will be.

“Flames can spread incredibly quickly and pose a serious threat to life and property.

“People who have asthma and other respiratory problems are put at particular risk as the cocktail of toxic gases produced by fire can seriously affect local air quality.

“Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children know how dangerous playing with fire is to themselves, their friends and the community.

“Within the next two months personnel from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will visit every school in East Dunbartonshire.

“Our aim is to educate future generations about the danger posed by fire and provide them with the information they need to make the right future choices.

“One of our key messages will be that crews attending deliberately set fires would be unavailable to respond to a real emergency, like a house fire or a road traffic collision.

“We need people to join Scotland’s fight against fire and help ensure their community’s vital fire and rescue resources are able to get to wherever they are needed.”

Anyone with information regarding fire-setters should contact the police via the non-emergency number 101 or, alternatively, information can be given anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.