Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is joining forces with partner agencies to highlight the dangers of deliberately setting fires as part of Arson Awareness Week.
The initiative, which runs from Monday March 20 to Friday March 24, will see Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service team up with Merseyside Police, local authorities across Merseyside and housing providers to highlight the consequences of setting fires.
Teams of staff, advocates, PCSOs and volunteers will visit homes and businesses in Kirkdale, Everton, Litherland, Kirkby, Speke, St Helens town centre and Egremont in Wirral throughout the week to carry out Home Fire Safety Checks, distribute information leaflets and identify residents who may be vulnerable to arson attacks.
They will also provide skips to remove fly-tipped rubbish from communities, give advice to business owners about waste management, engage with homeless people to raise awareness of the dangers of fires and provide support to residents concerned about anti-social fire setting in their neighbourhoods.
‘Mini’ Police Officers from Hatton Hill Primary School in Litherland will join the teams around Litherland to hand out safety leaflets and give advice.
Station Manager Paul Kay, Arson Reduction Co-ordinator for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “This campaign will see organisations from across our county come together to raise awareness of the dangers of arson and the impact fires have on our communities.
“Arson is a serious criminal offence which puts people’s lives at risk, causes damage to homes, businesses and community facilities and impacts on wildlife and the environment.
“It can range from mindless criminal damage to a deliberately-targeted attack but, either way, the potentially deadly consequences remain the same.
“If fire appliances are called out to deliberate fires this may delay the response to other emergencies, which could endanger lives elsewhere.
“We want to make people aware that deliberately setting fires in a public place is arson and, if caught, those responsible may face legal action.”
Merseyside Police Chief Superintendent Peter Costello, Head of Local Policing, said: “Merseyside Police is delighted to be supporting Arson Awareness Week, and we will be carrying out extensive work alongside MFRS and our other local partners throughout the week.
“We will also be using this as an opportunity to target serious and organised criminals operating across the county, in order to disrupt their criminal activity.
“The consequences of arson can be catastrophic in our communities, putting lives and businesses under threat and greatly impacting on the response of Merseyside’s emergency services.
“Educating people about the dangers of arson in all its forms is vital in reducing this impact. Alongside MFRS, we will robustly investigate incidents of arson and prosecute all those identified as being responsible.”
Cllr George Davies, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Arson attacks not only put lives at risk but also people’s homes, businesses and local facilities.
“In Wirral we have been working closely with Merseyside Fire Service to combat the problem of fires in fly-tipped rubbish.
“We would urge residents to report any suspicious activity immediately, particularly the initial dumping of rubbish as this can give us the opportunity to get it removed before an even more serious incident happens.”
Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “Sadly, deliberate fires take up a large amount of firefighters’ time which could easily be avoided.
“Many fires are started deliberately and this irresponsible behaviour needs to stop so supporting Arson Awareness Week can really help raise awareness about this.
“It is great to see pupils at Hatton Hill Primary School in Litherland getting involved in the project and I hope that it will have a lasting impression on them and their local communities.”
Cllr Eddie Connor, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are delighted to be working with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to help raise awareness of this important issue. Arson can not only cost lives, but also costs a lot of money in repairs and we will do everything we can to support this campaign.”