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Senior firefighter pleads with Scots

12 August 2019

ONE OF the country's most senior firefighters has pleaded with Scots not to scar their home towns by setting deliberate fires.

Firefighters attend around 12,000 deliberate fires every year across Scotland.

These potentially devastating incidents can put lives at risk, destroy properties, have an adverse impact on the environment and damage green space.

Crews carry out a range of preventative and educational efforts to lay bare the costs and consequences of setting deliberate fires.

Group Manager (GM) David Dourley is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Head of Fire Investigation (FI).

GM Dourley and his team of specialist fire investigators are tasked with shining a light on a range of fires across the country and regularly witness the immediate aftermath of an incident.

The FI chief is consistently left frustrated and baffled by the motives of those who set deliberate fires.

He revealed, "It's frustrating because deliberate fire setting is a needless act and puts lives at risk. 

“Individuals involved, or near the event, are at risk and the risk of injury to our hard-working crews is increased - road users are also put at unnecessary risk as we make our way to an incident.

"Whether it’s a large or small-scale incident, the resources we deploy should not really be there. They should be ready at the station to attend a genuine emergency where lives may need to be saved.

"It goes without saying we will always attend every emergency call, but attending deliberate fires or being redirected to one means that our fire appliances and personnel aren’t available when and where they should be."

Having witnessed the devastation a deliberate fire can cause, GM Dourley is urging communities to take heed, be resilient, and help tackle the scourge of fire-setting.

He said, "Deliberate fire setting is antisocial behaviour and must be treated as such. Fire incidents blot the landscape and impact on communities.

"It's not a nice place for people to live and work when they have burnt fire debris and areas left destroyed by unwanted behaviour.

"Think about the impact on the area you and your family are living in - it's your community, why would you damage it?   

"Look after the area you live in and let your community flourish."

GM Dourley continued: "There is a spike in the number of deliberate fire setting incidents during periods of better weather. 

"Whether it's boredom for individuals with nothing better to do or people looking for a bit of drama with the fire service turning up, I don’t know.

"But sometimes giving people an understanding of the consequences of starting a fire is all that's needed to prevent this sort of behaviour from happening.

"We engage with communities and our message is clear - antisocial behaviour is not acceptable in modern day society.

“I would urge anyone with concerns to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

 A close working relationship with emergency service and local authority partners allows GM Dourley and his colleagues to effectively investigate each incident.

He said: "We investigate every fire. 

“We have skilled specialist Fire Investigators and a Fire Investigation dog capability.

"Combined they are effective at identifying the origin and cause of fire incidents.

“Importantly, when we combine our expertise with Police Scotland partners and local authority intelligence groups, we can identify those involved and hold them to account.

 "We rely on partners and people in communities to support us to identify those responsible for setting deliberate fires so that they can be held to account.”