Firefighter warns of deliberate fire-setting in West Lothian

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By Steven O'Neill

A firefighter has warned of the dangers of deliberate fire-setting during the summer period.

Last year, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended over 140 wheelie bin fires in the West Lothian area alone.

While they Service continues to attend at every emergency, these incidents can impact on firefighting resources – costing around £2,000 to respond each time.

And, on occasion, firefighters have also required to call upon the assistance of police partners after coming under attack while working to protect the community.

Watch Manager Lee Clark is the SFRS Local Area Liaison Officer for West Lothian and works closely with communities to raise awareness of the dangers and the consequences.

He said: “There is always a concern around any deliberate fire raising as it has the very real potential to not only cause injury but damage property, affect the environment and impact on surrounding businesses.

“While attending deliberate wheelie bin fires some of my fire and police colleagues have actually been attacked while simply trying to do their job.

“This is completely unacceptable behaviour.”

WM Clark added: “Members of the public can help us prevent rubbish fires by considering some simple but effective safety advice.

“This includes: storing rubbish in a secure area if possible; not overflowing bins and refuse areas with excess rubbish; not putting bins out for emptying until the day of collection; be alert to strangers loitering in your street; report any build up of rubbish to your local authority or community fire station.”

WM Clark also warned that the SFRS will continue do everything in its power to work with communities to raise awareness while also assisting Police Scotland where incidents of deliberate fire raising occur.

He added: “Let me be very clear – we operate a strict zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire-raising.

“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to provide evidence that will ensure those responsible are held to account.

“Our firefighters work extremely hard to promote safety messages, and we will of course continue to engage positively with young people, parents and carers - as they can all play a vital role in helping us to reduce deliberate fire raising.

“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer.”

You can help prevent these incidents by following deliberate fire-setting and wheelie bin fire advice on our website or by notifying crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through their website at

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