NFCC slams ‘irresponsible’ rise in deliberate fires

NFCC slams ‘irresponsible’ rise in deliberate fires

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) criticised the ‘spike’ in deliberate fires reported over the weekend by fire and rescue services (FRSs).

In a press release, the NFCC said that following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the country would be on lockdown, it was continuing work with FRSs ‘across the UK to ensure a joined-up approach’, and that staff were ‘doing their [utmost]’ to ensure FRSs ‘are at the forefront in the fight against COVID19’. However, it outlined that FRSs ‘have reported a spike in deliberate fires’ over this last weekend, and ‘slammed this as irresponsible’.

It added that this was ‘especially’ irresponsible at a time when all FRSs ‘are under additional pressures’, with a number of wildfires also registered, and the NFCC said it urged landowners ‘not to undertake unnecessary prescribed or controlled burns’. While FRSs have ‘placed an emphasis’ on maintaining operational response, there is work ‘underway to ensure support is provided to the most vulnerable people across the country’.

This work includes delivering food and medicine, supporting the police and ambulance services as well as health colleagues, and the NFCC added that FRSs are ‘working closely’ with these services as well as local resilience forums to ‘look at where we can assist communities’. The FRSs will also ‘continue to ensure the well-being of all their staff is a priority’, in line with nationally approved advice.

Roy Wilsher, NFCC chair, commented: ‘During these unprecedented times, the fire service is working hard to ensure the safety of the community, doing their upmost to protect the most vulnerable. However, it is unbelievable that we have seen a rise in deliberate fires reported in some areas in the past few days. All services are already under increased pressure; this is just piling more on to already stretched resources.

‘We will use our wide-range of capabilities and skills to ensure we provide community reassurance and support. This will be achieved by using our operational and support staff to ensure we maximise our capacity, while ensuring fire services are responding effectively to the current situation. We are urging people to carry out - and pay particular attention - to fire prevention methods in the home. This is especially important at a time when people are spending more time at home.’