With the start of the school summer holidays upon us, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is calling on parents and guardians to speak to young people about the consequences of deliberate fire setting.
The call comes as MFRS joins a national campaign to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and keep people in Merseyside safe.
Running from July 18 to 22, ASB Awareness Week 2022 aims to encourage communities to take a stand against ASB and highlight the actions that can be taken by those experiencing it.
Organised by Resolve, the UK’s leading ASB and community safety organisation, the week features a series of events all across the UK involving councils, police forces, housing associations, charities, community groups and sports clubs.
In 2021, MFRS was called to 3,223 deliberate secondary fires. Many of these involved wheelie bins, playground equipment, woodland and rubbish being set alight. Whilst this might seem like a bit of harmless fun to some, fires likes these have real consequences.
Mark Thomas, Area Manager for Prevention at MFRS, explains: “This is arson – a serious criminal offence that puts people’s lives at risk. What might seem like a laugh with your friends could lead to a criminal record and seriously impact not just your own future, but the future of those around you.
“If you have young people at home, please speak to them about the consequences of their actions. Do you know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing? By working together to actively prevent such incidents, it could ensure that you don’t receive a knock at the door from a police officer informing you that your child has been arrested or, worse still, has been involved in a serious accident.”
Throughout the week, MFRS will be teaming up with partners including Merseyside Police, local authorities and housing associations, visiting hot spot areas across the county to help reduce the number of ASB related fires.
AM Thomas added: “Deliberate fire setting not only affects people’s ability to enjoy our parks and woodlands, but it can also have an effect on wildlife in these areas. Dealing with these types of incident diverts our fire appliances and crews away from other activities such as giving fire safety advice to make the communities of Merseyside safer from the risk of fire.
“If a fire engine is called out to a deliberate fire, this will cause a delay in our emergency response to other potentially life-threatening incidents – we simply can’t be in two places at once. All of our fire engines carry CCTV and we will work closely with partner agencies including Merseyside Police, to ensure our communities are kept safe from anti-social behaviour and that those responsible are held to account.”
MFRS is urging members of the public not to suffer in silence if they experience ASB. Incidents can be reported to the anti-social behaviour team at the local council, or to the police if people feel that they are at immediate risk or in danger. ASB and arson can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more information about ASB Awareness Week – visit www.resolveuk.org.uk/asbawarenessweek