Wheelie bin shop fire  Image: Beds Police

Arson: Don’t accept it, report it!

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is calling on everyone to play their part in tackling fire-crime this Arson Awareness Week (18th to 24th March 2018).

Insurers report that arson costs over £1bn in fire-related claims across the UK each year. Damage to property, business interruption and other inconvenience caused by arson is significant. Deliberate fires cost a vast amount of money, but also endanger life, with a significant number of lives lost as a result.

In the year ending September 2018 55 people died in the UK in fires that were started deliberately.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s arson reduction officer, Andy Martin, said:

“Arson accounts for almost half of all fires attended by the fire and rescue services and can have devastating effects in terms of its cost and consequences.

“Arson is a significant drain on our resources and can put lives in danger, destroy buildings and be devastating. If you see anyone setting a fire deliberately, ‘don’t accept it, report it’.”

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Arson Reduction Officer, Andy Martin Image: Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Use 999 for the Fire Service if lives or property are at risk. If not call the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

746 cases of arson in Bedfordshire during 2018

In Bedfordshire arson incidents fell by nearly 4% between 2016 and 2018. There were 746 cases of arson in 2018, down from 774 in 2016.

The majority of arson attacks were against outdoor structures and road vehicles (666 in 2018). Arson against buildings and dwelling accounted for 80 incidents in 2018.

Andy said:

“You can reduce the chances of your home, business or other property becoming a target for an arsonist by following some simple guidelines.”

Only put rubbish out on the designated collection day and keep bins away from the walls of your property, ideally in a secure environment.

Fly tipping is great fuel for arsonists, always dispose of your rubbish responsibly and make arrangements for combustible materials to be taken to a tip by a trustworthy source. DON’T leave any in front of your property.

Don’t let rubbish build up outside your property or allow bins to become too full. Don’t put skips close to your property and arrange for them to be emptied or removed before they become too full. You should contact your local council about disposal of bulky items.

Derelict building fire Image: Beds Fire

Schools are often the target for arson. Fires not only damage the buildings but disturb the education of all those attending and divert resources to rebuilding the property and not teaching the pupils. If you have information about arson at a school please report it.

Derelict and unused buildings and buildings under construction or renovation are often subject to arson, criminal damage and theft. Such buildings are seen as an easy target by offenders during the times when they are insecure and unoccupied. But not only can they be of significant value but also pose a risk to those neighbouring the property.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously around a derelict building contact the police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For more advice on arson prevention and reduction please see the arson reduction pages in the Community Section on the Beds Fire website.