Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has warned that anyone deliberately setting off fires across the region will be caught.
It follows a spike in arson cases since the start of the Government's 'stay at home' directive, that came into affect on Monday, 23 March 2020.
Since that date, AF&RS have attended 58 deliberate fires across the Service area.
The service have called on the public to show their support now more than ever, but have also warned anyone that purposefully sets off a fire will be caught.
Simon Shilton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for AF&RS, said:
“It is so disappointing to see that at a time when we all need to be coming together to support one another we still have people committing crimes and ruining our local communities.
“We often attend fires that are started deliberately that present significant risks, not only to those that start them and are around the area but to the crews that are sent to tackle them.
“Now more than ever we would urge people to not start a fire intentionally as it could have severe consequences.
"Not only is it a crime that can carry a significant sentence, but our crews would potentially be unable to get to another emergency.
“The Service’s resources need to be available to respond to any fires in the home and support with humanitarian aid for vulnerable people in our communities.
“We are pleading with the public to support us to remove arson from our communities.
"This is an ideal opportunity for communities to get behind us on the zero tolerance to arsonists.
“We all need to work together to tackle arson – it is everyone’s problem.
“And importantly, at this time, everyone should be staying at home and only venturing out for essential journeys.”
AF&RS has 10 fire investigation officers across the service and a fire investigation dog called Jet, that is able to detect accelerants.
The officers work along the CSO to detect the cause and origin of fires.
Mr Shilton added:
“Here in Avon Fire and Rescue Service we have a crack team of fire investigation staff that are able to identify the cause of deliberate fires and provide that information to the police for prosecution.
“Deliberate fires are not taken lightly and we invest heavily in this area of work.
"Our fire investigation dog, Jet, also has a nose for accelerants and will find the cause of a fire even if our officers can’t.
“For anyone thinking about starting a deliberate fire, I would warn them once again that this is not the time to do so.
“We work with the police on a regular basis and we will help bring you to justice.”
There were 1,329 deliberate fires across Avon in 2019/20.
The public are being asked to assist in tackling arson, by eliminating potential sources of fuel in the following ways:
- Putting wheelie bins out only on the day if collection and bring them in as soon as possible
- Storing bins and refuse securely and away from property
- Report issues such as fly-tipping in your area
- Report incidents anonymously to Crimestoppers
- Ensure all business premises are locked and secured