Accidental house fires in Midlothian are continuing to fall, latest figures show.
A total of 60 such incidents were reported between April 2017 and March 2018 – down 15 on the previous year.
Almost three quarters of those incidents were caused by people becoming distracted while cooking.
And dedicated firefighters in the area are determined to continue driving this number down, already carrying out more than 1,000 free home fire safety visits in the 11 month period.
The findings were highlighted in a report brought before the Midlothian’s Police and Fire and Rescue Board on Monday, June 4.
Stephen Gourlay is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s local senior officer for Midlothian.
He said: “It is pleasing to see the decline of accidental dwelling fires and other incidents.
“But these statistics represent vital intelligence, and it is clear these are most commonly linked to cooking.
“One of the ways we work to prevent fire from occurring is through our free home safety visits where crews engage with families and the most vulnerable in our communities to ensure we provide the most appropriate support to reduce the risk of unintentional harm in the home.”
Across the reporting period, firefighters carried out 1,018 visits to homes across Midlothian.
During these visits firefighters will identify potential hazards, give advice on what to do in the event of a fire and even fit free smoke detectors where appropriate.
LSO Gourlay added: “We’re here to help everyone stay safe but we’re particularly keen to support the most vulnerable and elderly within our communities.
“That’s why we appeal to everyone to check if their elderly relatives, friends or neighbours are in need of this vital support – and to contact us directly.”
There has been a slight increase in the number of deliberate fires in the region – up to 411 from 399 the previous year.
Most of the fires involved rubbish, wooded areas and grassland.
LSO Gourlay said firefighters are committed to driving the number of deliberate fires down.
He added: “Preventing these incidents from occurring in the first place is our main aim and as such we continue to engage with local schools and youth groups to highlight the risks.
“We take a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who deliberately sets fire and are committed to working closely with our partners, including Police Scotland, to help ensure those involved in this criminal activity are quickly identified and action taken.”
This comes amidst some of the hottest and driest weather of the year, and SFRS is reminding residents how to help prevent wildfires.
He said: “Wild and grass fires can start by the careless disposal of cigarettes and barbecues or campfires left unattended.
“They then have the potential to burn for days and devastate vast areas of land, wildlife and threaten the welfare of nearby communities.
“Many rural communities, such as those in the Midlothian area, can be hugely impacted by wildfires, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.”
For further advice and information about wildfires and how to prevent them visit: /your-safety/wildfires.aspx or www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/
To arrange a free Home Fire Safety visit contact 0800 073 1999, text ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or fill in a form at /your-safety/hfsv-form.aspx