London Fire Brigade

Firefighters ask public to help reduce arson

19 March 2010

London’s firefighters are aiming to reduce the number of arson incidents across the capital. Last year in London around 30 per cent of all fires were started deliberately. The number of deliberate fires is falling, but more needs to be done - these fires damage property, take firefighters away from training and fire safety work, and can even lead to people being hurt or killed.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety said: “We’re working hard to reduce it, but arson remains a real problem across London. People start deliberate fires for a huge range of reasons – from boredom, to natural curiosity, financial reasons or even as a cry for help.

Arson can affect us all. The easiest thing people can do to help is to ensure there’s no clutter or rubbish lying around outside their homes and neighbourhoods. This rubbish can be an easy target for would-be arsonists and increases the risk of you suffering from a serious fire in your area”.

The number of deliberate fires is falling (deliberate fires fell from 13,829 in 2007/08 to 10,028 in 2008/09) but that is not to say that arson is not still a problem for the capitals firefighters. The Brigade works closely with organisations like the police and borough councils. The fall in deliberate fires across the capital is also due in part to the work of the Brigade’s staff across London, including:

• The Arson Task Force, which brings together the Brigade, the police and government departments, to reduce arson-related deaths, injuries and fire damage. 
• The Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme (JFIS), which works with young people who have demonstrated firesetting behaviour (see more in notes to editors).
• The Brigade’s fire investigation units, who attend fires after firefighters have put the fire out. Fire investigators work closely with police to find out how deliberate fires are started. Teams use specialist equipment and techniques, and can even call on fire investigation dogs, trained to sniff out accelerants such as petrol. 

As part of the campaign to reduce deliberate fires, the Brigade has launched a new YouTube video, where firefighter, Ben Yong, talks about what people can do to reduce the problem. Ben talks about things like the importance of reporting fly-tipping to your local council as this practice poses a huge risk in terms of arson.

Notes to editors

Click here for further information on reducing arson: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/ReducingArson.asp

Click here for more on our work with young people, including information on our Juvenile Firesetters Scheme: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/OurWorkWithYoungPeople.asp

Contact Emma Cullen if you’d like the arson figures for your borough on 020 8536 5922 or emma.cullen@london-fire.gov.uk