Arson crackdown pays dividend

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ARSON attacks across Sunderland fell by 12 per cent last year, new figures show.

The total number of blazes attended in 2010/11 dropped by nearly 11 per cent compared with the previous year’s figure of 2,872, the statistics from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service revealed.

Fifty-two people were injured by fire last year, compared with 53 the previous year.

There were no deaths caused by accidental house fires compared with one the previous year and deliberate fires fell from 2,329 to 2,059.

House fires were down from 181 to 161, and primary property fires – a fire at a business, home, car building or fire where more than five crews attend – fell from 677 to 544 last year.

Chief Fire Officer Iain Bathgate said: “These impressive figures are due to a lot of hard work by our dedicated staff and demonstrate the success of the prevention work our people undertake as a routine part of their job.”

Over the year, firefighters from across the service have also been out and about in communities to spread the safety message, which has helped drive down the number of fires.

Almost 30,000 homes were made safer by crews carrying out free home safety checks, including making sure residents have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan in place.

Mr Bathgate added: “There can be no doubt that maintaining such high standards and continuing the downward trend in relation to deaths and injuries from fire is no easy task, especially given the financial constraints placed upon us.

“But I am confident that the committed and excellent people we have here will continue to give their all to ensure we do the best job possible to give our communities the quality of service they expect and deserve.”

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