Brigades fight holiday fires

22nd July 2005 at 01:00
A major campaign targeting young fire-raisers has been launched to coincide with the school holidays. Figures from Scotland's eight fire brigades, which are directing the campaign collectively, show that three-quarters of fires in Scotland in 2003 - around 50,000 - were started maliciously, many by young people.

Scots are significantly more at risk of such incidents than those who live in the rest of the UK. They are more likely to have a fire in the home, and to suffer death or injury. The figures are worst in areas of social deprivation.

In 2003, Scotland's fire services tackled nearly 50,000 deliberate fires, up 32 per cent on the year before. Ten people died and 357 were injured.

Ninety per cent of smaller fires were set deliberately.

"A grass fire may not seem serious to young people but it can be, and it takes the valuable fire resources away from potentially serious incidents," a Scottish Executive spokesperson said.

The Executive contributed pound;120,000 towards the campaign.

Statistics from Zurich Municipal, the UK's leading education insurer, indicate, however, that the cost of arson attacks on Scottish schools has declined dramatically.

In 2002, Scotland accounted for 34 per cent of the cost of school fires across the UK. By 2003 that had fallen to 20 per cent, and by last year it was down to 4 per cent.

The national cost of fires in schools continues to grow, however - from Pounds 65 million in 2000 to pound;83 million in 2004 across the UK.

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