A Dundee fire chief has called on locals to help the service “stamp out” deliberate fires.
The Tele can reveal that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was called to 635 deliberate fires in the Dundee area throughout 2016.
Local senior officer for Dundee, Perth and Angus Colin Grieve told the Tele that “every single minute” of his team’s time counts and that the fires could prevent them reaching real emergencies punctually.
He said: “The SFRS has a zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising because it can potentially put our communities at great risk.
“We need our communities to work with us in helping stamp out this reckless behaviour.
“We continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to ensure that those responsible are identified and dealt with accordingly.
“Deliberate fires waste our time and resources and have the potential to delay us from reaching real emergencies where every single minute counts. As part of this we visit schools and work with them to emphasise the dangers of fire, of wilfully starting fires and the implications of making hoax calls.”
According to figures released through Freedom of Information, year on year, the number of deliberate fires around the city has decreased by 13 — from 648.
However, the East End and Strathmartine wards both saw increases, up by 35 and 28 respectively from the previous year.
Elsewhere in the city, the Coldside ward saw a decrease in deliberate fires from 42 to 38, while Lochee dropped from 67 to 44.
Maryfield saw a significant reduction from 78 to 37 and the North East dropped from 224 to 219.
Broughty Ferry saw a drop in deliberate fires, from 19 last year to 17 this year and the West End saw a reduction from 27 to 22.
In one example nine people had to be evacuated from flats in Court Street after a fire was started on purpose.
Another incident in the city saw a pram set on fire at Lansdowne Court and sent to the 13th floor in the early hours of the morning.
Mr Grieve said the fire service is working on those specific areas to bring down the numbers.
He said: “We work closely with schools, community learning and development teams, community wardens and Police Scotland to reduce the impact of this antisocial behaviour.
“Individuals who are responsible for this type of fire are encouraged to attend reduction schemes and in severe cases are dealt with by the justice system.”