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Drop in deliberate fires as Flames Aren't Games campaign ends

September 4 2018
The Roaches fire

The Roaches fire

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has revealed that deliberate fire figures have plummeted during the school summer holiday as its annual Flames Aren’t Games campaign draws to a close.

Throughout the summer we have worked hard to spread our Flames Aren’t Games message, along with regular fire safety messages in a bid to reduce the number of fires in the open in the county. As a result of our repeated pleas for the public to be vigilant, and no doubt the slightly cooler, damper weather, we are pleased to see such a high reduction in the number of secondary fires we’re been called to during the past three weeks.

Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj

The campaign, which coincides with the school holidays when incident numbers typically peak, is run in a bid to deter potential fire starters and highlight the dangers of setting fires deliberately.

This June and July, Staffordshire enjoyed extremely hot, dry weather, which created very dry ground conditions and tinder dry foliage. This sparked a significant increase in both accidental and deliberate fires out in the open during early summer compared to last year.

However, during the last three weeks of the school holiday (Monday August 13 to Monday September 3) the number of deliberate grass and rubbish fires in Staffordshire has dropped by 70 per cent, with just 95* fires compared 323 fires in the first three weeks of the holidays (Friday July 20 and Sunday August 12).

Despite the reduction in incidents seen above, this year has been an exceptionally busy time for firefighters. They attended 1,475* grass and rubbish fires during June, July and August, 1,115* (75 per cent) of which were believed to have been started deliberately. Compared to just 495 of these fires reported in 2017, of which 388 were deliberate.

This year’s campaign featured a ‘found footage’ style video, starring Fire Cadets, which told the story of teenagers playing a game of truth or dare which went very wrong when they involved playing with fire. This style of video, similar to that used in the 1990s film The Blair Witch Project, was chosen to give viewers a life like experience of what could really happen. The video was viewed more than 30,000 times on social media. The campaign website was viewed almost 6,500 times, with 288 pledges made in an online competition to encourage under 18s to promise not to set deliberate fires.

Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj said: “This summer we’ve faced unprecedented demand and it is really sad to see so much of our countryside devastated as a result of these fires, many of which are deliberate or at least preventable, such as the recent fire on The Roaches near Leek which was caused by a campfire which hadn’t been extinguished properly.

“These fires not only ruin beauty spots where families want to spend their time with their children but also put the wildlife at risk and take our firefighters away from important training and prevention work. All the while we are dealing with these incidents we must also continue to respond to other incidents; for example during the fires near The Mermaid and Dimmingsdale there were 10 accidental dwelling fires and 18 road traffic collisions, and during The Roaches incident there were 29 accidental dwelling fires and 39 road traffic collisions.

“Throughout the summer we have worked hard to spread our Flames Aren’t Games message, along with regular fire safety messages in a bid to reduce the number of fires in the open in the county. As a result of our repeated pleas for the public to be vigilant, and no doubt the slightly cooler, damper weather, we are pleased to see such a high reduction in the number of secondary fires we’re been called to during the past three weeks.

“We’ve had such great support from the public throughout the summer and the campaign video and competition have both been well received. To have 288 young people sign our online pledge is a fantastic result; that’s 288 young people who will now hopefully never set a fire.”

Facts about The Roaches incident:

  • During the 15 day period there were 230 appliance movements to this incident (including appliances from other services). For comparison there were 164 at the incident on the moorlands near the Mermaid pub and 85 at the Dimmingsdale fire near Alton     
  • Six water dams were used
  • Approximately 100 lengths (about a mile) of lay flat hose and approximately 500 meters of hose reel tubing was used, supported by six light portable pumps
  • Two High Volume Pumps (HVPs) were also used, which laid a mile of hose to supply water across the rear sectors. This pumped water from a sump which was filled by tankers from Severn Trent; it is estimated to have supplied about one million litres of water over the 15 days the incident
  • A helicopter was used during the early stages of the incident.