THE number of accidental house fires have fallen to their lowest level in four years in South Lanarkshire.
Recently released statistics show that there was 49 such incidents in the area between July 1 and September 30 – the lowest number recorded since 2014 for that period.
The number of fire related casualties also fell to their lowest level since 2013, with three people treated for injuries in the same time frame.
This compares to nine people in the reporting period for 2017 and down from 18 in 2015 – a significant 83 per cent reduction.
And despite experiencing one of the hottest and driest summers on record, the number of deliberate fires fell compared to the first three months of 2018 – from 262 incidents between January 1 and March 30, to 211.
Alan Fairbairn is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer (LSO) for the area.
He said: “We are delighted to see the continued downward trend in fires across the area, particularly as we are seeing results where it matters most.
“Our crews are dedicated to preventing fires from happening in the first place and they have worked extremely hard - carrying out more than 800 Home Fire Safety Visits to the homes of our most vulnerable and elderly residents.”
During a Home Fire Safety Visit, firefighters will identify risks and key evacuation routes in the home and install free smoke detectors where appropriate.
LSO Fairbairn said: “As a direct result of this, the number of people harmed by fire has fallen to its lowest level in five years, alongside a fall in the number of accidental dwelling fires.”
The figures were released following a meeting of the Safer South Lanarkshire Board earlier this month.
The statistics also show that distraction while cooking remains the number one cause of fires in the home, but LSO Fairbairn says that continuing to raise awareness of the risks is key.
He continued: “I must appeal to the community to continue helping us to drive down the number of unnecessary and potentially devastating fires – reach out to your friends, family members or neighbours that you think could benefit from one of our free Home Fire Safety Visits and get in touch with us.
“We are particularly keen to reach those who are most vulnerable and prevent harm wherever possible.”
LSO Fairbairn also welcomed a drop in the number of deliberate secondary fires, which he said was a result of strong partnership working and local intelligence gathering.
Deliberate secondary fires include fires in grassland, heath and rubbish and can have a potentially devastating effect on the environment and communities.
LSO Fairbairn continued: “This summer was very dry and warm, and as a result July saw a somewhat unprecedented increase in activity.
“However, we quickly acted on the intelligence gathered, identified key areas which we needed to focus on alongside our partners and the community – and as a result we saw the number of secondary deliberate fires almost halved in August, and further reduced in September.
“The message here is clear – we take a zero-tolerance approach to deliberate fire setting which can divert our resources from real emergencies and have a devastating impact on our communities.
“And while we have the robust planning in place which means we continue to attend at every emergency.
“We are committed to working with schools and the local authority to highlight the potential consequences of this activity and we will continue to work with our partners in Police Scotland to identify those responsible.”
The number of deliberate primary fires – which includes fires set within homes, businesses and vehicles – also fell for the third quarter in a row and fell from 41 incidents for the reporting period in 2017, to 34 in 2018.
The number of Road Traffic Collisions in the reporting period also reached a record low – SFRS attended 26 incidents between July and September – the lowest number in five years.
LSO Fairbairn added: “I absolutely welcome this continued downwards trend in the number of road traffic collisions.
“Education is a massive factor in keeping South Lanarkshire’s roads safe and as part of this we are embracing the use of the latest and most innovative technology.
“Firefighters know how devastating the aftermath of an accident can be, and the tragic consequences. Now, SFRS and our partners can use virtual reality headsets which give people of all ages and experience levels an insight into what happens in the aftermath of a road traffic collision, and how they can avoid it happening to them.
“We will continue to work with the local authority and Police Scotland to raise awareness and drive the number of accidents down.”
To find out more about how to obtain a free home fire safety visit, click here www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/hfsv-form.aspx