Arson, hoax calls and attacks on firefighters are huge challenges faced by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. They waste valuable time and resources, putting lives at risk.
We work with a range of partners across our communities to educate people about the dangers and consequences of anti-social behaviour.
You can reduce the risk of deliberate fires at your home or business through effective security measures:
- Lock any entry gates and repair any damage to fencing to deter intruders.
- Promote good relations with neighbours and encourage each other to inform the police of anything suspicious.
- Fit good quality external doors with five lever mortice locks or UPVC doors.
- Close windows when not at home – burning materials can be put through open windows.
- Consider security systems such as intruder alarms or security lighting to deter intruders.
- Sheds and garages should be well secured as they often contain flammable liquids and tools that can be used to force entry into the home.
- Look after your wheelie bin. Place it out on the morning of collection and return it to your property as soon as possible.
- Avoid placing bins, rubbish, or other combustible items against the walls of the home. These are a ready supply of fuel for arsonists.
- Burning materials (including fireworks) can be pushed through letterboxes. A metal container or lockable flap can be fitted.
You can get more information on home security from your local Police Crime Prevention Officer or book a home safety check.
Juvenile Fire Setter Programme
The scheme was introduced to combat malicious fires and arson, which was estimated to be costing Tyne and Wear £1.2m per year. This figure probably underestimates the true extent of juvenile fire setting, as it doesn’t include the thousands of outdoor fires and small fires in the home or garden which are started by children but go unreported as parents extinguish them.
It is recognised in most communities that we have credibility with young people. We are seen as role models with authority, but also as friendly and non-threatening. We use this supportive and positive approach to work with juveniles and their families.
The Juvenile Fire Setters Education Programme is an integral part of our education strategy. A team of two, usually one male and one female, carry out the education ideally in the home – although this isn’t always possible. The approach and resources used vary, depending on the individual details of each case.
One of the strengths of the Juvenile Fire Setters Education Programme is recognising the role of the Fire and Rescue Service and its limitations. For this reason we are continually developing strong links with relevant partners to improve our assessment process and facilitate referrals. These include youth offending teams, social services and the Nuffield and Kolvin Units, which provide mental health services for young people.
Attacks on firefighters
In recent years, firefighters across the country have increasingly been attacked while attending calls. They have:
- had bricks, bottles, stones and fireworks thrown at them
- suffered verbal and physical attacks
- been stabbed
- been shot at
Vehicles are attacked as they respond to calls and vital life-saving equipment is stolen. These attacks seriously risk the lives of our crew and those who depend on us to reach them in emergency situations.
Our firefighters risk their own lives every day to save other people but a small minority continue to threaten the lives of our staff and those they are trying to help. We all rely on the fire service to protect us and any delay resulting from people obstructing or attacking firefighters could mean the difference between life and death.
Anyone who obstructs or attacks emergency workers could face a fine of up to £5,000 or a jail term of up to 10 years (for public order offences).
If you know of anyone who has attacked a member of the emergency services, do the right thing and contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
999 is only for real emergencies.
Hoax calls waste valuable time and resources. They affect our ability to respond to real emergencies, which means someone could die.
They are also a risk to our firefighters and the public as there is a higher risk of road accidents whenever crews have to drive at speed to respond to a call out.
Hoax calls cost fire and rescue services nationally £230,000 a day. Around 50,000 hoax calls are responded to by the Fire and Rescue Service every year in England and Wales.
Making a hoax call is illegal, and the penalties for making a call for ‘fun’ are high – either a £5,000 fine or 6 months in prison.
If you know of anyone making false calls to the emergency services, do the right thing and contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.