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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Fire and Rescue Service Asks Why?

23/08/2011

Why? That is the question Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are asking the people who started 26 grass fires deliberately across the county yesterday.

"Why do people do this? Do they think it’s funny, or clever?"

Head of Risk Reduction, Ian Sloss

19 different appliances from across the county were sent to the various fires yesterday, the first of which was at Hopwas Woods in Tamworth at 1.15pm.

Fires were still being set at 8.50pm last night when youths were seen starting fires near to Trentham Lakes.

Head of Risk Reduction, Ian Sloss said: "Firefighters from across the county spent 17 hours tackling deliberately started fires yesterday. Some areas of the county were spared however we had a shocking 14 of the 26 fires in Cannock alone.

"Tamworth and Stoke also suffered yesterday but the number of fires in the Cannock area is really appalling. Why do people do this? Do they think it’s funny, or clever?

"These people need to realise the seriousness of their actions, they are tying up emergency resources which could be needed elsewhere for a genuine emergency, they are endangering firefighters' lives as well as members of the public and their own lives and they are also destroying many of Staffordshire’s beauty spots.

"What the perpetrators probably don’t realise is that deliberately starting a fire, no matter how small, is a serious crime whether it is a small grass fire or a severe house fire.

“We do everything in our power and work with the police to catch these criminals; all of our appliances are fitted with CCTV cameras which will be used as evidence where necessary. If the person who started the fire is prosecuted they could face a sentence in prison or a young offender’s institution.”

A spokesperson from Staffordshire Police added: “Staffordshire Police treats all incidents of arson very seriously – including grass fires that have been started deliberately.

"Such fires not only put people and property at risk, they also divert essential emergency services from other members of the public who require help. Messing around with fire could cost yours or someone else’s life and result in prosecution and a potential prison sentence."

Anyone with information on people responsible for deliberately starting grass fires should contact Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service launched a grass fires campaign in April to highlight the dangers of deliberately starting grass fires. Posters with a firefighter on entitled ‘Flames Aren’t Game’ have been distributed to schools countywide.