A Sunderland neighbourhood is at the centre of a campaign to halt the risk of arson attacks after it was highlighted as a blaze hotspot.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and landlord Gentoo are working together to address antisocial behaviour in Hendon.
Launched today and set to continue tomorrow, Operation Clean Sweep runs from Back on the Map and aims to prevent deliberate fires and educate businesses to help reduce risks.
TWFRS firefighters, prevention and education teams, fire safety and volunteers are also hand to conduct Home Safety Checks at addresses where we believe properties have not received a check, or where we understand there are no smoke alarms.
Its operational crews will be targeting businesses to provide information on arson prevention and the importance of reporting flytipping to the council.
TWFRS's area manager for community safety, Lynsey McVay said: “Our statistics show that Hendon is one of the highest recording wards in Sunderland for deliberate secondary fires. Since April 2017 our crews have attended 237 deliberate fires in the area.
"Not only do deliberate fires present huge risks to the perpetrators, cause damage to local properties and the environment, they also present a challenge to us.
"If we are attending deliberate fires, we are unavailable to attend other fires or emergencies.
"Parents can’t always know where there children are, but they can talk to them about the risks – risks that could leave them scarred for life or end up with a criminal record.
"Deliberately starting fires can quickly turn into something very serious.”
The council will also be delivering a leaflet on household refuse and the facts occupiers need to know on refuse disposal and collection.
Deputy leader of council, chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership and ward member for Hendon, Councillor Michael Mordey added: “Working with our local businesses and residents, we will do everything we can to help prevent anti-social behaviour and the fly-tipping that can lead to deliberate fires and arson.
“If we all work together to report any problems and help identify those responsible, we can hopefully deter anyone from committing criminal acts.
“We need to warn people to be more careful with disposing of their household and commercial refuse, and also about what might happen if they aren’t with people potentially setting it on fire.
“Hopefully using a combination of education and enforcement we can get the message across, and also provide local households any support and advice they need on fitting smoke alarms.”
TWFRS's outreach vehicle is acting as the “hub” and has been set up at the junction of Corporation Road.
Inspector Jamie Southwell, of Northumbria Police, said: “We are totally committed to taking a firm approach to help reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour and make our residents and businesses feel safe.
“This is another example of the work we are carrying out alongside partners to tackle fire-related anti-social behaviour which is committed by a minority but can have a significant effect on those living and working in the area.
“Communities should not have to put up with the antisocial behaviour of a few individuals, and we would urge anybody who has any concerns to speak to us.
"By working together with the public and our partners, we can tackle this problem head-on.”