'These sort of fires have the potential to seriously injure or even kill' explained GM Nick Tharratt at a multi agency press conference.
Agencies are working together to tackle a recent spike in arson in the Grimsby area. A press conference was held earlier today at Cromwell Road Fire Station in Grimsby to talk about the action being taken in clamping down on this potentially deadly activity.
GM Nick Tharratt of Humberside Fire and Rescue addressed the press and warned of leaving wheelie bins out overnight and the dangers of letting rubbish pile up alongside properties. The press were then invited to see a live demonstration of the rapid development of a wheelie bin fire and how much heat they can generate.
Councillor Hazel Chase, NELC Portfolio lead for Safer and Stronger Communities was concerned by the sharp increase in fly tipping and advised residents of NE Lincs against using cheap collection services often advertised on social media:
"These services are cheap for a reason. They are mostly unlicenced and the likelihood is that your waste will end up in a layby or at the end of an alleyway. Only council waste depots should be used for large items such as furniture, mattresses or garden waste. Fly tipping is a serious issue is Grimsby and the council are pleased to work with our emergency services to reduce its impact and reduce the risk of fire.'
Detective Chief Inspector Nicki Miller who is heading up the multi agency response was pleased with the work so far:
"The work of our new community partnership has already reduced arson attacks – now we need your help to make sure it stays that way.”
It was revealed that collaboration between Humberside Police, Humberside Fire and Rescue, North East Lincolnshire Council and other key agencies had reduced this type of offending by four per cent.
The partnership was formed in March after officers identified a slight rise in arson reports – some of which had the potential for serious or even fatal consequences, with wheelie bins being set alight and left against properties.
DCI Miller went on to say:
“The potentially deadly consequences of some of these incidents gave us cause for concern, so we decided to form this partnership to stamp out this issue before someone was hurt or killed.
“I am happy to say that the work carried out as a result of this partnership is already proving to be a success, with a reduction in reported offences and calls to the fire service.
“We have made 21 arrests – and spoken informally to a number of other individuals – in relation to suspected arson attacks, which has resulted in six people being charged – three of which have already been dealt with by the courts.
“A number of youths have also been dealt with by means of referral to fire awareness courses run by the Youth Offending Team and fire service.”
Long term strategy
Education has also been a key aspect of the work being undertaken.
As the majority of the offenders have been under the age of 18, links have been forged with local schools to help ensure young people are aware of the potential consequences of deliberately lighting fires.
The dangers of gathering in derelict buildings is also being highlighted – as not only are such properties potentially structurally unsafe, but they are also a target for arsonists.
Group Manager Nick Tharratt said that as recently as this week, crews had attended what could have been a fatal incident.
He said: “Our crews were called to Claremont House, a privately owned derelict building in Welholme Road, Grimsby, on Sunday (June 26) following reports of a fire and a group of young people being seen on the roof.
“On our arrival, we were told the youths were in the basement. Luckily, the fire was quickly dealt with.
“The building was searched. We found evidence of vandalism, drug use and people sleeping rough, but it took some time to locate the youths.
“The four were eventually found in the basement, but had it been a serious fire, it would almost certainly have resulted in four fatalities.”
Both DCI Miller and GM Tharratt appealed for anyone with concerns about suspicious activity close to bins, near piles of waste or in derelict buildings to get in touch – calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Detailed information on how residents can help has also been delivered to homes in the areas targeted by offenders.