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26 February 2019, 12:28
Firefighters in Scotland are being called to thousands of deliberate fires, with over 1,800 incidents recorded within just a two month span last year, according to offical figures.
Statistics published by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) indicate that crews attended 1,824 deliberate blazes between March and April in 2018.
It included 319 calls in Glasgow, 128 in Edinburgh and 156 across East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
Incidents included building and vehicle fires, outdoor areas such as fields and countryside, as well as refuse fire.
The figures signal a reduction by 34% on the 2,782 deliberate fire calls that SFRS crews were mobilised to between the same period in 2017.
SFRS Deputy Chief Officer David McGown said that the "unacceptable" behaviour is placing lives at risk and would not be tolerated.
Mr McGown said: "Make no mistake - fire can cause injury and death, it can be devastating to properties, businesses and the environment.
"The fact that our firefighters are called to thousands of deliberately set fires each year is completely unacceptable.
"Firefighters exist to protect their communities - yet they are still being put at risk by a small minority of people who continue to deliberately set fires.
"Deliberate fires are not only reckless and dangerous, but can also divert SFRS resources away from genuine emergencies where people require our help."
Mr McGown said that although it was positive to note a reduction in the number of incidents recorded between 2017 and 2018, he insisted the service would not become "complacent".
He said: "Let me be very clear - we operate a strict zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising.
"This reckless and selfish behavior will not be tolerated, and we will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to provide evidence that will ensure those responsible are identified and held to account.
"It absolutely goes without saying that we prefer to prevent fires - not fight fires.
"As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages, and parents and carers can also help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks.
"It's pleasing to note this reduction - but we will not be complacent, and will always look at how we can continue to drive down deliberate fires."