Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning young people who deliberately start fires that they could face up to two years in prison or be hit with a maximum fine of £5,000.
“When we have warmer weather, blazes can spread very quickly, with terrible effects on wildlife and the countryside. Even worse, they may also potentially be putting innocent lives at risk, possibly taking firefighters away from life-threatening incidents."
Glynn Luznyj, Head of Risk Reduction
The reminder comes ahead of the six week holiday when this type of incident traditionally sees a sharp increase. During the Easter half term alone there were 187 small blazes.
Lighting grass fires not only puts the lives of those responsible for igniting them at risk, they also potentially mean that the firefighters who are tackling them are unable to attend other serious incidents such as house fires and car accidents.
Last month the Service dealt with 216 grass fires across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
There were 118 incidents in the North Service Delivery Group, 59 in the West Service Delivery Group and 39 in the East Service Delivery Group.
The Service recently launched a video called ‘The Teenage Caveman’ to combat the problem.
It is about a group of young people who get bored and think about starting a grass fire and the potential consequences they face in doing so. To view the video visit http://youtu.be/xINXFdZyh1M
Head of Risk Reduction Glynn Luznyj said: “Starting a grass fire is not only anti-social behaviour, it can have devastating consequences and quite often the culprits don’t think about the terrible damage they might cause.
“Particularly when we have warmer weather, blazes like this can spread very quickly, with terrible effects on wildlife and the countryside. Even worse, they may also potentially be putting innocent lives at risk, possibly taking firefighters away from life-threatening incidents.
“Furthermore, it comes with a financial impact as each time the fire service is called out it results in a significant cost to the taxpayer. People, particularly youngsters, need to remember that starting a fire deliberately is not big, funny or clever, it is a crime which can lead to a prosecution, a two year prison sentence and a maximum fine of £5,000.”
Safety advice includes not playing with matches or lighters and to tell a responsible adult if someone is playing with fire.
Smokers are also urged to dispose of cigarette ends and matches safely to avoid starting a fire inadvertently.
People are also advised to put all litter in bins as sunlight shining through bottles and glass left on the ground can start a fire.