Scotland has seen a significant decrease in the number of deliberate fires in the three weeks before November 5, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
The SFRS said that the reduction was a result of its prevention efforts, such as school visits and community engagement, to educate young people on the dangers of fire-setting, bonfires and fireworks.
However, the SFRS also warned that the majority of firework injuries occur at private properties and urged people to attend organised events where possible.
How Scotland reduced deliberate fires
The SFRS said that it had recorded 907 deliberate fires in the three weeks prior to November 5 this year, compared to 1,302 in the same period in 2018. This represents a 35% reduction.
The SFRS attributed this improvement to its proactive prevention work, which involves visiting hundreds of primary and secondary schools across the country and reaching more than 8,000 young people between the age of ten and 14.
The SFRS also works with local authorities, police and other partners to identify and remove potential fire hazards, such as rubbish and fly-tipping, from public spaces.
Area commander Gordon Pryde, SFRS head of community safety and engagement, said: “We do so much more than simply responding to fires and prevention is always a key pillar of our work.”
He added: “Clearly we welcome any fall in this type of activity as this reduces the risk to the wider community and the impact this type of behaviour can have on our firefighters.”
Where Scotland saw the biggest drops
The SFRS said that some regions had seen more significant reductions in deliberate fires than others.
For example, Glasgow and Edinburgh had both seen around 40% fewer fires, while East, North and South Ayrshire had seen a 53% drop.
Falkirk and West Lothian had also seen a 25% reduction in fires.
The SFRS said that these regions had benefited from its targeted prevention campaigns, which involved working with local communities and stakeholders to address specific issues and challenges.
Area commander Pryde said: “In the build-up to the Bonfire Night period, we work tirelessly to engage directly with schools and community groups to educate our young people on the dangers of deliberate fire-setting, bonfires and fireworks.”
He added: “We also work closely with our partners to identify areas where we can make a difference and reduce the risk of fire.”
Why Scotland still needs to be careful
Despite the positive trend, the SFRS said that there was still room for improvement and caution.
The SFRS said that research by the Care of Burns in Scotland (COBIS) network showed that most firework injuries happened at private properties.
Last year, COBIS recorded 41 firework injuries over the four-week period around Bonfire Night. These ranged from minor burns to fingers and hands to severe injuries such as loss of fingers and vision.
The SFRS also said that children were frequently burned by sparklers, which can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius.
Area commander Pryde said: “We want people to enjoy themselves however this must be done safely and responsibly.”
He added: “Our message is clear – leave fireworks to the professionals and attend an organised event where possible.”
David McGill, lead clinician for COBIS and consultant plastic surgeon at Scotland’s burn hub said: “Great care should be taken around fireworks, especially when children are near. To minimise the risks to you and your family, a publicly arranged event would be by far the safest way to view fireworks.”