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Kent Fire and Rescue say a hard hitting poster campaign's working to cut down on deliberate fires
Dartford firefighters have told Heart they believe community safety work has led to a drop in deliberate fires across the area.
This includes a hard-hitting poster campaign aimed at teenagers.
A Kent firefighter who sustained horrific burns while tackling a blaze at Dartford Heath is using his experience – and shocking pictures of his injuries – to warn youngsters about the dangers of starting fires.
Mat Barney received serious burns to his arms and face while dealing with a grass fire at the Heath in 2005. He now hopes that a new poster showing graphic photographs of his injuries, will dissuade potential arsonists and help to crackdown on incidents of deliberate fires across Kent.
Recalling the terrifying incident, Mat said: “We were there as a relief crew and there was lots of rubbish so we think a petrol can exploded and sent a jet of flames into my face. It was so intense, I was suddenly disorientated and fell over some more rubbish onto the scorched ground. The pain was excruciating.
“People don’t realise how quickly a fire can flare up or change direction and if an experienced firefighter like me can be affected, so can those who start them and they can easily be killed.”
The poster is being displayed in certain parts of Kent – including areas around Dartford Heath – where there have been a large number of deliberate fires.
During May and June KFRS attended 23 incidents at Dartford Heath while July and early August saw 20 deliberate fires around the Bridge Estate area. Since 9 August there have only been three calls to the Heath.