Deliberate fires are putting people’s lives at risk across Tyne and Wear

A secondary fire at Tyne Main Road in Gateshead.

Tyne and Wear’s Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther has urged teenage arsonists to not put lives at risk this half term after revealing crews are spending 64 days a year tackling deliberate fires.

Since Bonfire Night 2020, firefighters and crews from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have tackled 4,421 deliberate secondary fires.

These type of fires are commonly small outdoor fires involving discarded items, refuse, wheelie bins, and grasslands parks that don’t involve people or property.

Firefighters say the fires are often linked to anti-social behaviour where teenagers have started a blaze along with their friends.

They are also saying TWFRS crews spent, on average, 21 minutes extinguishing each of the deliberate fires.

This equates to approximately 64.5 days of the past year being spent putting out deliberate secondary fires.

Secondary Fires across Tyne & Wear between 5/11/20 and 20/10/21

Gateshead:               786

Newcastle:                1,305

North Tyneside:        498

South Tyneside:       500

Sunderland:              1,332

Today (Monday) half term begins for schools across Tyne and Wear, and CFO Lowther has called on teenagers to stop putting lives at risk.

West Denton ASB fire

CFO Lowther, said:

“Over the past twelve-months our firefighters have attended nearly five-thousand deliberate secondary fires across Tyne and Wear.  These actions by a selfish section of the local community are putting people’s lives at risk.

“We can’t be in two places at once, which means if we’re dealing with a malicious fire in one part of the region then we aren’t able to respond to a real emergency – where someone’s life could be in danger.  Let’s hope it’s not a loved one or family member of one of culprit’s – who requires our help at their time of need!”

CFO Lowther continues: “At this time of year, in and round Bonfire Night, we always see an increase in anti-social behaviour and the misuse of fireworks.  We ultimately want communities to stay safe from harm, and would recommend that any rubbish or unwanted items that may be outside of residential properties to be disposed of in the appropriate manner.

“As ever, we are working closely with our partners to help protect local communities.  We always appreciate the cooperation of residents and businesses so if you have any information about malicious activity in your area then please report it anonymously to Firestoppers – help us, help you!”

Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton, of Northumbria Police, said: “We are aware of the impact that the anti-social behaviour of a minority can have on our communities.

“We want everyone to enjoy the Halloween and Bonfire Night period and contribute positively to their communities. It is important, however, that people do so safely while taking responsibility for themselves and being considerate of others.

“As ever, we will be working closely with our partners to positively address any issues or pockets of disorder.

“We are proud of the community spirit and togetherness fostered across Northumbria, something this area is famed for, and would ask that the public continue to work with us to ensure this region remains a safe place to live and work.

“Anybody who is concerned about anti-social behaviour in their area, or is aware of any criminality, is asked to report it to us by speaking to an officer on patrol, via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or calling 101.”

If you have any important information about deliberate fires being ignited in your local community – you can report the details anonymously by calling Firestoppers on 0800 169 5558 or by reporting it through their website