FireStoppers campaign to tackle incidents of arson has my support - Julie Elliott MP
Arson attacks are not just a scar on our city’s environment and economy – they also pose a deadly threat to health and life.
Firefighters tackled 278 deliberate primary fires in Sunderland during 2018/19 – classed as serious incidents harming people or property – as well as 1,536 secondary blazes and 1,161 refuse fires.
Deliberately setting fire to a bin, a car, some tyres or a skip may seem like a harmless prank to some, but each incident places yet another stress on our already over-stretched emergency services.
Brutal funding cuts by the Tory Government have seen local firefighter numbers cut by a third since 2010. There are fewer fire appliances too, and less time can be spent on community fire education.
Worryingly, our region now has twice the national average for deliberate primary fires and 3.5 times the national rate for secondary fires; small outdoor fires, not involving people or property.
Fires cost lives and cause misery – which is why I have given my full support to FireStoppers, a new campaign launched by North East fire services, including Tyne and Wear, to crack down on this issue.
Historically, few people have come forward with information on deliberate fires or arson within their communities. However, FireStoppers offers a new way to provide crucial information anonymously.
A simple phone call, or filling out an online form, is now all that it takes to help fire investigators – and you won’t have to provide any contact details. No-one will ever know that you called.
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FireStoppers has already been trialled successfully in East Durham, and I’m delighted that Sunderland will now benefit too. It is time we all joined together, as a community, to tackle this problem.
There are countless examples of community areas which have been put temporarily out of use due to deliberate fires. Just this month there have been refuse, tyre, skip and car fires across our city.
The FireStoppers campaign gives people the power to speak up anonymously and help reduce the number of potentially lethal incidents.
It is a project which can help each, and every, one of us.
Our dedicated firefighters take risks every day on our behalf.
We owe it to these brave men and women to ensure that they have our full support as they work hard to keep us all safe.
*For further information on the campaign, the FireStoppers telephone number is 0800 169 5558 and the online form can be accessed at www.firestoppersreport.co.uk