The number of fires taking hold in Aberdeenshire homes has fallen – for the fifth year in a row.
New statistics show that since Scotland’s single national service was created the number of fires have fallen from 191 in 2014/15 to 161 in the last year.
And this has seen the number of people who were harmed as a result of fires in the home drop from 32 in 2014/15 to 20 this year.
The figures were revealed in an end-of-year report from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to Aberdeenshire Council this week.
The statistics come just two weeks after SFRS launched a wide-ranging consultation on how it plans to keep Scotland even safer in the next three years and appealed to Aberdeenshire communities to have their say.
Local Senior Officer Iain Findlay (pictured) is responsible for overseeing SFRS activities in the 6,000sq km area, where the Service works to protect more than 250,000 people.
Speaking following the meeting, LSO Findlay said: “We are absolutely delighted to see this year-on-year reduction in the number of accidental fires in the home.
“Aberdeenshire is one of the most diverse geographical areas in the country, and this comes with its own set of challenges.
“However the dedication and hard work of our firefighters, community action teams and our partners is absolutely paying dividends.”
He added: “Our ultimate ambition is to prevent anyone from coming to harm in their own home.
“Home Fire Safety Visits are a cornerstone of that ambition – these visits make a real difference when it comes to ensuring homes are as safe as possible.
“This is particularly true when it comes to the most vulnerable and elderly in our communities – I’d like to take this opportunity to ask anyone who thinks they know someone who might benefit from one of our visits to contact us.
“Our trained crews and community action teams will not only offer potentially life-saving advice, they can also identify other hazards and risks, and help people to live safely and independently in their own homes.”
The report also highlighted a slight increase in the number of Special Service Incidents SFRS responded to, from 425 in 2017/18 to 427 in 2018/19.
This includes incidents such as Road Traffic Collisions.
Aberdeenshire plays host to some of Scotland’s busiest thoroughfares, such as the A96 between the cities of Aberdeen and Inverness, and popular tourist and motorcycle routes in and around the Cairngorms National Park.
LSO Findlay continued: “Road Traffic Collisions continue to make up the majority of these types of incidents and we attended 165 of these in the reporting period.
“But we are committed to working with our partners to drive this down.
“This has included pledging our continued support to the Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative, and working with local businesses, schools and communities to promote road safety.”
Special Incidents also include Water Rescue, Rope Rescue and incidents where SFRS has been called to assist its partners.
Aberdeenshire, which stretches from Inverey in the Cairngorms to Fraserborough on the North Sea coast, also boasts some of the country’s most spectacular waterways, mountain regions and diverse communities.
In recent years, severe weather has seen rural areas such as Ballater devastated by flash flooding and specialist SFRS resources, like dedicated Water Rescue units, were mobilised to protect communities.
And more recently, large wildfires have seen local crews working hard with partners and emergency service colleagues in challenging conditions.
This comes against a backdrop of an increase in the number of secondary fires – which includes fires in grassland and rubbish – which has been attributed to an extremely dry winter and spring.
LSO Findlay, who was previously the Service lead on water rescue, added: “Our crews have been working extremely hard across the area, and they have performed incredibly well under difficult conditions, such as those that we seen at Aberlour in Moray last month.
“My thanks goes to all of them, and our partners and emergency service colleagues. We will continue to work with the local authority and our partners to educate the public to the dangers of wildfire and how to avoid them.”
Last month the Service launched a consultation on its Draft Strategic Plan for 2019-2022, and called on the public to have their say on how SFRS aims to meet prevailing risks - such as severe weather and a changing rural demographic.
LSO Findlay has backed the appeal, saying: “It is vital that the people living and working here in Aberdeenshire have their say on our proposed plans for the future.
“In very recent memory we have seen how the changing risks Scotland can have a huge impact on our communities, and these proposals outline how we plan to meet them.
“We believe we can do more to keep people safe, through partnership working and prevention, as well as making sure we continue to meet the unique needs of our communities.”
The consultation will run until Thursday, July 18 and can be accessed here: https://firescotland.citizenspace.com/planning-and-performance/draft-strategic-plan-2019-22/
To arrange a free home fire safety visit, click here www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/hfsv-form.aspx