Arson-field-fireBedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, together with the Arson Prevention Forum, are calling on everyone to play their part in tackling fire-crime at next week's Arson Awareness Week.

“Arson accounts for almost half of all fires attended by the fire and rescue services and can have devastating effects in terms of its cost and consequences,” says Lee Howell, the Forum’s Chairperson.

Andy Martin from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service added “Arson is a significant drain on our resources and can put lives in danger, destroy buildings and be devastating. If you see anyone setting a fire deliberately, 'don't accept it, report it’”. Call the Police using 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger, or if you think there is a crime in progress. If it is not an emergency please call 101.”

Insurers report that arson costs over £1bn in fire-related claims each year. Damage to property, business interruption and other inconvenience caused by arson is significant. Deliberate fires cost a vast amount of money, but also endanger life, with a significant number of lives lost as a result. In 2014/15, 50 people died in fires that were started deliberately.

In Bedfordshire a successful anti-Arson campaign has seen incidents fall by 35% between 2010/11 and 2015/16. There were 650 cases of arson in 2015/6, down from 993 in 2010/11. The majority of arson attacks are against outdoor structures (419 in 2015/6) or against vehicles (141 in 2015/6), arson against buildings and dwelling only accounted for 90 incidents in 2015/6. The greatest reduction in arson attacks has been against outdoor structures, down 39% from 684 in 2010/1 while arson against vehicles has dropped by 19% from 174 in 2010/1 to 141 in 2015/6.

Lee Howell continued, “The Forum brings together those with a responsibility or interest in reducing arson and challenges them to do more. We have seen progress, but there is still work to be done. This is where members of the public can help.”