Don’t let your decisions prove fatal during the darker nights

(Left to right): Sian Price and Craig Swaddle – North East Ambulance Service; Joe Haustead – Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service; Richie Rickaby – Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service; Chief Inspector, Nicola Walker and PC Julie Clazey – Northumbria Police pictured underneath a digital billboard showing a Darker Nights campaign image.

These gruesome images show the stark reality of what could happen if someone sets a deliberate fire and it all goes terribly wrong.

That is why, as the darker nights start to arrive, firefighters have urged residents young and old to stay safe and be extra vigilant during the autumn and winter months.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have today launched their Darker Nights campaign as they prepare for the Bonfire period, their busiest time of the year.

Figures showed last year that deliberate fires in public areas – such as rubbish or wheelie bin fires – increased by 84% across Tyne and Wear in the two weeks leading up to Bonfire Night.

The community safety campaign focuses particularly on the extreme ‘consequences’ that could befall any young person who may think it’s alright to start deliberate fires.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) used make-up to cover a teenager with graphic burns to show the consequence of dangerous fire-setting.

The graphic campaign images show the young man struggling to do the things that he loves best – playing on his computer console and mobile phone.

The headlines for posters that will flood the streets of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland in the coming weeks, read: “Starting fires isn’t a game” and “Don’t set fire to your selfie”.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service say they will be working in partnership during the Darker Nights campaign with Northumbria Police, North East Ambulance Service and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.

They will also be working with other strategic partners including all of the local councils in Tyne and Wear, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, Nexus and regional housing associations such as Your Homes Newcastle and Gentoo.

Richie Rickaby, Area Manager for Community Safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The consequences that some people may experience from setting a deliberate fire could be totally life changing.  They could receive or cause serious burns that will impact a person’s life forever.

“We are working closely with our partners across the region to educate, inform and make people and businesses aware of the serious nature of any kind of anti-social behaviour, the selling of illegal unlicensed goods, and attending unofficial firework displays.

“The fire service always strives towards keeping the local community safe from harm all year round, with a particular emphasis on the demands of Bonfire Night. But we would urge people to stay safe throughout the whole darker night’s season.

“We will be carrying out enforcement of licenced premises to ensure any fireworks sold in the coming weeks are safe but we would encourage communities to only attend organised displays.”

The comparison figures for deliberate fire setting during last year’s October half term and Bonfire Week speak for themselves.

Released by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) the number of secondary fires in their region during that period increased dramatically from the two weeks prior.

The figures below show the percentage increase from the two weeks between October 11th and October 24th last year to the following fortnight (October 25th to November 7th),

Gateshead saw an increase of: 208%

Newcastle saw an increase of: 26%

North Tyneside saw an increase of: 162%

South Tyneside saw an increase of: 213%

Sunderland saw an increase of: 84%

Northumberland saw an increase of: 62%

To prevent a similar spike, TWFRS firefighters and officers from their Prevention and Education team have already been attending schools across the region delivering Darker Nights assemblies containing essential fire safety messages.

This was accompanied by a special educational lesson plan presentation that has been given to teachers and can be delivered to support the current curriculum.

Leaflet campaigns will take place in geographical areas that have experienced high levels of anti-social behaviour, while intelligence has also been shared with blue-light partners such as Northumbria Police.

For further details about all of the organised bonfire night and firework displays in your area please visit your local authority’s website or social media platforms.

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