Arson’s blight on Tyne and Wear’s communities, businesses and the environment to be highlighted in awareness week

From Monday, March 18th Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) will use Arson Awareness Week to provide targeted information to local residents and businesses on how to reduce the risk of arson.

In the last year our communities have experienced an increase in deliberate fires, with wheelie bins being a prime target. From March 2018 – March 2019, we attended 723 wheelie bin fires that were classified as arson.

Wheelie bin fires cause significant damage to the environment and pose a risk to the perpetrators and anyone walking nearby – especially as bins can often contain aerosols that explode when heated. We advise residents to:

  • Store all wheelie bins away, especially at night to avoid them becoming a target
  • Only put out your wheelie bin on the collection day and return it to your property as soon as possible
  • If possible wheelie bins should be stored securely behind locked gates
  • Do not overfill your wheelie bins or leave loose rubbish around them.

In 2017/18 there were 65 fires in commercial premises in Tyne and Wear, with insurance claims costing £1,660,360. Many businesses don’t recover from a fire.

But businesses can help themselves by:

  • Not storing combustibles or unsecured containers against buildings – maintaining a gap where possible.
  • Not allowing rubbish to accumulate; it should be removed regularly.
  • Review security and access to your site.
  • Share information with neighbouring businesses.

TWFRS Area Manager – Community Safety, Lynsey McVay commented:

“Arson is a blight to many communities and businesses. It can bring fear to residents, damages our local environment and can have a major impact on our economy with many businesses unable to recover after becoming victims of arson.

But there are some very simple things that we can all do to protect ourselves from arson – from bringing in your wheelie bin as soon as you can, to businesses ensuring the environment around their premises is clear from rubbish.

Arson is often associated with anti-social behaviour and we would always advise that if you have any concerns you should report them to Northumbria Police.”

TWFRS has produced a leaflet for businesses and offers support. It has also produced a series of videos which are available on their website and on their social media channels to help stop residents and businesses becoming the victims of arson.

Area Manager for Community Safety, Lynsey McVay

Northumbria Police’s Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton said:

“If you are deliberately setting fires in a public place then you are committing a criminal offence and will face police action.

Fires can have devastating consequences and we have seen numerous cases where they have led to serious injury or even a loss of life.

Our colleagues at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service do an incredible job to educate young people about fire safety while also responding to calls for service.

We will continue to support the amazing work they do but anyone who puts life at risk by setting an illegal fire should expect a visit from the police.”