Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has joined forces with partner agencies and community groups to help stamp out deliberate fire setting in Swanscombe.
Firefighters have been called out 45 times in the Swanscombe area since 5 April and have tackled a range of fires including a large field fire on 21 July in Stanhope Road. Six fire engines, a bulk water carrier and 30 firefighters attended the scene and spent nearly an hour and three quarters bringing the fire under control using hose reels and beaters, then a further hour damping down.
Dartford Crew Manager, Richard Emery is appealing to local residents: “Please help us put a stop to this mindless crime. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. It’s a blight on the community and we are all paying the cost as tax payers.”
Parents are also being encouraged to talk with their youngsters to make sure they understand the dangers of starting fires and to look out for the following signs:
If you are concerned in anyway contact KFRS’s Firesetters team on 01622 692121 or email email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on how to deal with the problem.
Richard added: If you are one of those responsible for starting these fires, please think about the consequences. Fire moves very fast, quicker than you can run. It only takes a change in wind speed or direction and you could find yourself trapped by smoke and flames. It could be a car crash or house fire with your family involved that we are delayed getting to
“If you’re starting fires as a result of peer pressure or because you think its harmless fun, stop and think again. Arson is a serious crime; you could face fines or several years in jail – even a life sentence if someone is killed as a result of your actions.”
KFRS is working alongside Kent Police, Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council, Dartford Borough Council and local community groups to combat the problem. Local residents are also being asked to report suspicious or unusual activity to help catch the culprits.
Inspector Gary Woodward, of the Dartford Community Safety Unit, said: “Police Community Support Officers have been targeting their patrols in the Swanscombe area following a number of reports of greenery being set alight. Not only is it reckless, it is an extremely dangerous thing to do putting your life and that of others at risk.
“Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service will continue to work closely together to investigate any suspicious fires and bring those responsible to justice. We would encourage anyone who has information about these fires to contact police or call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
“Anyone found committing arson risks spending time behind bars.”
Peter Harman, Town Mayor from Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council said: “Swanscombe is a great place for people to live and work, keeping it that way is a high priority for us, which is why we're working with KFRS on this important issue.”
KFRS firefighters and volunteers will be visiting local residents and contacting local shops asking for their help to enforce a voluntary ban on selling lighters, matches and accelerants. Although there is no legal age to buy such goods, many of the shops and retailers in our community recognise their responsibility in helping to prevent arson and their help will have a big impact on initiative. KFRS will also be attending a number of community events throughout the summer highlighting the dangers of deliberate fire setting.