Wildfires almost double as West Lothian parents urged to warn kids of dangers

Fire officers have urged parents to help educate young people following a rise in outdoor fires.

Outdoor fires have almost doubled across Falkirk and West Lothian – last summer, 145 avoidable fires in the open were recorded across the region, up from 74 the previous year.

The figures released by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service highlight activity during a nine-week period between late June and late August.

Fires in the open are often set deliberately or are caused by negligence and complacency.

They can cause huge damage to vast areas of landscape and wildlife and have the potential to burn for days.

Speaking to mark the launch of the #SaferSummer campaign, area commander Jim Quinn, SFRS local senior officer for Falkirk and West Lothian, said: “We need people to be aware of how quickly things can get out of hand.

“Outdoor fires can spread very quickly and can cause huge damage – both to areas of countryside and indeed can spread quickly within tents and caravans.

“We understand that people will, of course, want to take to the countryside and holiday in Scotland this year. But please be careful and bear in mind that human behaviour can drive the risk of fire down significantly.

“First and foremost, before lighting any outdoor fires, check for any restrictions or permissions required by the landowner and make sure you use a fire safe pit or container that can be properly extinguished before you leave.”

Deliberate fire-setting is also on the rise in the area, with 236 incidents recorded – a three year high.

These fires were largely comprised of outdoor incidents impacting grasslands and refuse, but also included building and vehicle fires.

LSO Quinn has urged everyone to play their part in reducing the risk of fire – particularly parents and carers.

He said: “We are proud of our educational and prevention work, but it is true that parents, carers, and members of the public can all help us here by engaging with young people and laying bear the costs and consequences of starting a fire.

“When a young person deliberately starts a fire, they are risking their safety, their future, and the welfare of others. Firefighters are also being dragged away from genuine emergencies.

“Our prevention work will continue across the country, but it goes without saying that we take deliberate fire-setting very seriously and will always work with our partners in Police Scotland to identify those responsible.”

The #SaferSummer campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of deliberate fire-setting and promote the need for holidaymakers and countryside users to remain safe this summer.

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