Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has released a ‘found footage’ style video in a bid to stop young people from setting fires as part of the 2018 Flames Aren’t Games campaign.
We’ve already seen a large increase in deliberate outdoor fires this year and the risk is even higher now we have entered the summer holidays, which is when we usually see a spike in these types of fires. These incidents put extra pressure on our firefighters, putting them at risk and taking them away from responding to other incidents where people need help and carrying out important prevention work.
Following recent hot weather, figures show the number of deliberate outdoor fires has risen dramatically. In June 2018 firefighters responded to 364 outdoor fires*, which compares to 184 in June 2017.
More than 200* of these incidents involved parkland, heathland/moorland, scrubland, trees/shrubs, wasteland and grassland, and worryingly 252* (69 per cent) of the fires were believed to have been started deliberately.
So far Figures for July 2018 (until July 15) show a concerning spike in the number of deliberate fires; with the number of grass and rubbish fires recorded almost tripling when compared to the same period in 2017. This July to date firefighters have responded to 297* reports while only 104 were recorded during this period in 2017.
The video, which stars Fire Cadets, tells the story of four teenagers who play a game of truth or dare in the woods and shows just how dangerous is it to play with fire. The ‘found footage’ 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 is being launched as the Service’s Flames Aren’t Games campaign gets underway, aiming to reduce the number of deliberate fires set in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. The Service’s Prevent Teams are involved in holding activities for children and young people throughout the summer holidays in an effort to keep them busy. It is hoped that the video will be shared on social media and will make would be fire-starters think twice before starting fires.
Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj said: “Every year we see a surge in the number of deliberate outdoor fires but this year has been particularly worrying. We are hoping that the realistic style of this video helps young people realise just how dangerous it is to set a fire.
“We are urging people to share the video so it can reach as many people as possible. Please show it to your children and friends. We hope that by using a lifelike video it will make those who consider lighting fires think twice.
“We’ve already seen a large increase in deliberate outdoor fires this year and the risk is even higher now we have entered the summer holidays, which is when we usually see a spike in these types of fires. These incidents put extra pressure on our firefighters, putting them at risk and taking them away from responding to other incidents where people need help and carrying out important prevention work.
“The video is just the start of our summer long campaign which involves us working with partners to run diversionary activities in the hope of deterring young people from setting fires.”
Superintendent Martin Brereton, Head of Prevention and Early Intervention at Staffordshire Police, said: “Fires can have a considerable impact on the local community, sometimes with fatal consequences, and we take the investigation of deliberate fires very seriously. If you are found guilty of setting fires, you could face a prison sentence and have your life turned upside down. We want young people to enjoy the summer, but please do it safely and think about your actions.”
*Please note that due to exceptionally high operational demand not all fire data has been finalised and the figures for the 2018 periods above are likely to change.