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Fire service and partners to launch community campaign across Merseyside for Arson Awareness Week

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will join forces with partner agencies across the region next week (19- 23 March) to highlight the dangers of deliberate fires as part of Arson Awareness Week.

The initiative, which runs from Monday March 19 to Friday March 23, will see Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service team up with Merseyside Police, local authorities and housing providers to highlight the potentially lethal consequences from fires being started deliberately.

During the past five years, fire crews in Merseyside have had to tackle nearly 17,500 deliberate fires, including over 2,000 fires involving vehicles.

This figure also includes 894 fires in residential properties, 354 on business premises and 1500 fires started deliberately using ignitable liquids.

As part of the campaign to tackle this problem, fire service staff, advocates, PCSOs and volunteers will visit homes and businesses in St Helens, Knowsley. Liverpool North, Liverpool South, Wirral and Sefton during the week to carry out Home Fire Safety Checks, distribute information leaflets and identify residents who may be vulnerable to arson attacks.

They will also provide skips to remove fly-tipped rubbish from communities, give advice to business owners about waste management, engage with homeless people to raise awareness of the dangers of fires and provide support to residents concerned about anti-social fire setting in their neighbourhoods.

Station Manager Paul Kay, Arson Reduction Co-ordinator for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “The figures from the last five years show that arson is a very serious issue for both local communities and our fire crews, with sometimes deadly consequences for those affected.

“This campaign will see organisations from across our county come together to raise awareness of the dangers of arson and the impact fires have on our communities.

“Arson is a serious criminal offence which puts people’s lives at risk, causes damage to homes, businesses and community facilities and impacts on wildlife and the environment. “It can range from mindless criminal damage to a deliberately-targeted attack but, either way, the potentially lethal results remain the same.

“If fire appliances are called out to deliberate fires this may delay the response to other emergencies, which could endanger lives elsewhere.

“We want to make people aware that deliberately setting fires in a public place is arson and, if caught, those responsible may face legal action.”

Merseyside Police Superintendent Mark Wiggins said: “Merseyside Police are one of the key partners who work together with the fire service on a daily basis. It is vitally important that we continue this excellent relationship and supporting Arson Awareness Week is just one example of this. We are well aware of the impact of deliberate fire setting and both the damage and negative impact this can have on our communities. This could be from antisocial behaviour at a local level right the way through to serious and organised crime.

“We will be using this as an opportunity to target those involved in criminal activity whilst doing all possible to provide effective education messages to people”

“I would encourage anyone who has information about those committing arson to report it so we can take action to prevent future consequences and also to discourage those who think risking playing with fire is acceptable to think again”

Cllr George Davies, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Arson attacks not only put lives at risk but also people’s homes, businesses and local facilities.

“In Wirral we have been working closely with Merseyside Fire Service to combat the problem of fires in fly-tipped rubbish.

“We would urge residents to report any suspicious activity immediately, particularly the initial dumping of rubbish as this can give us the opportunity to get it removed before an even more serious incident happens.”

St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Cllr Lisa Preston, said: “Deliberate fire setting and the antisocial behaviour related to it are blights on our communities, and a needless drain on the resources of local emergency services who do all they can to serve and protect our residents.

“This campaign and the efforts of our partners in Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in engaging with the community are so important, and I hope residents and businesses will support us in continuing to raise awareness of arson and its potentially deadly impact.”

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “Sadly, deliberate fires take up a large amount of firefighters’ time which could easily be avoided.

“Many fires are started deliberately and this irresponsible behaviour needs to stop so supporting Arson Awareness Week with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service can really help raise awareness about this.”

Cllr Eddie Connor, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are delighted to be working with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to help raise awareness of this important issue. The week’s activities complement our own campaign targeting fly-tipping and littering across the borough, so it’s great to be teaming up with partners to tackle this important issue.

“Arson can not only cost lives, but also costs a lot of money in repairs and we will do everything we can to support this campaign.”

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