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London Fire Brigade is calling for people to report fly tipping, abandoned vehicles and derelict buildings to help prevent deliberate fires on Halloween.
It’s a scary statistic, but on average we see around 40 per cent more deliberate fires on Halloween in comparison to the days either side. It’s not just rubbish that can be targeted, abandoned vehicles and derelict buildings being deliberately set alight are among the top causes of fires on Halloween.
Rubbish and abandoned vehicles are ready sources of fuel for an arsonist and can cause fires to spread quickly to nearby buildings, putting lives at risk. In the last five years, 40 people have sadly died as a result of deliberate fires and over 760 people have been injured.
As many of us prepare to have Halloween at home this year, we’re urging people to keep a look out for potential arson risks in your local area and be mindful when disposing of rubbish, to help reduce the risk of arson attacks.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “Criminals who deliberately start fires are putting lives at risk and put a strain on emergency services at such a critical time. These fires can destroy homes and businesses and quickly spread out of control.
“By fly tipping you are creating easy targets for arsonists. Help us to avoid a rubbish Halloween by always disposing of waste properly and reporting any illegal fly tipping, abandoned vehicles or buildings you may be concerned about to your local council.
“Make sure you only put out rubbish and recycling containers on your designated rubbish collection day and never store rubbish or anything that can catch alight, in front of doors, corridors, stair wells or escape routes.”
Dan Jones, Chair of London Environment Directors Network (LEDNet), said: “With coronavirus cases increasing across the capital, Londoners are looking to celebrate Halloween festivities at home with their families this year. The pandemic has laid huge financial strain across London and we are asking Londoners to pull together to ensure there is no additional strain on the emergency and public services this Halloween season.
“Please try and minimise the amount of waste your household produces and properly dispose of any waste to help reduce the number of deliberate fires in your local community. By thinking twice and working together we can make sure that public safety is a priority and Halloween remains a fun time for all Londoners.”
There are simple steps you can take at home and in your neighbourhood.
Haunted houses and creepy abandoned buildings tend to look more enticing on Halloween night than on any other night of the year as people go searching for ghosts and ghouls. Last year, almost half of the fires we attended on Halloween involved a derelict building.
Whilst we can’t say how to secure your property from wandering spirits, keeping entry points to buildings secure can help prevent intruders and trespassers, which can reduce the risk of an arson attack.
If you’re a business owner, make sure you lock external doors and windows and close internal doors at the end of the day. It’s also important to make sure that your property is well maintained and any damage is repaired as soon as possible. Any unused or derelict buildings should be boarded up and secured. You might also want to consider installing security systems in buildings, such as CCTV, alarms and security lighting. If you see anything suspicious, you can report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or contact the police on 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
Assistant Commissioner Jennings added: “Take the opportunity to enjoy Halloween at home as a family. As you share ghost stories, talk to your children about the dangers of playing with or starting fires.
“We know that this year, Halloween will be a bit different, but whether you are carving pumpkins or digging out your best fancy dress, it’s important that you continue to follow the government guidelines and enjoy Halloween safely.”
With public displays cancelled this year we're asking people to celebrate in a way that's considerate to your neighbours and has fewer risks.