FIREFIGHTERS had to deal with nearly 3,000 fires started deliberately last year with the majority causing major damage in fields, refuse and countryside.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service figures for March and April last year branded "absolutely unacceptable" by fire chiefs show little change from the same time last year, despite major safety campaigns.

The new figures come as one firefighting farmer, Stewart MacPherson from Foyers, Inverness-shire called for caution over the 'potentially devastating' use of heat lamps in sheds and barns ahead of the spring lambing season.

“Farmers and crofters will continue to use these devices, that’s not debatable – but I would urge caution, and for anyone using these heat sources to take simple but hugely effective measures to reduce the risk of fire," he said.


The fire toll also threatened lives.

One blaze was caused by lit bottles of flammable liquid being thrown through two properties in Glenrothes, Fife which left one teenager seriously injured.

In December, Naveed Iqbal, 34, of Leven, was jailed for 16 years for attempted murder in connection with the blazes at Glasgow High Court.

They also include a major fire at the Toys R Us store in the Kingway West Retail Park in Dundee and a blaze which damaged several properties in Main Street and Academy Street, Coatbridge.

The fire service said they had dealt with a total of 2,782 such blazes across the country between March and April 2017 - 48 fewer than the same period in 2016.


Assistant Chief Officer David McGown the service's director of prevention and protection said: “These figures are absolutely unacceptable.

“Firefighters exist to protect their communities and yet they are being put at risk by a very small minority of people within those communities who deliberately set fires.

“Let’s be very clear – fire can cause injury, damage properties and affect the environment, not to mention the potential impact on businesses and the economy.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service therefore operates a strict zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising.

“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to ensure that those responsible are identified and dealt with accordingly.”

Aberdeenshire and Moray saw the number of deliberate fires nearly treble from 23 to 68, in East Lothian, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders it more than doubled from 84 to 176.

In Fife, which was flagged as an area of concern last year locally with deliberate fire setting rising by five per cent, the numbers nearly doubled from 89 to 161.

In East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, the number of deliberate fires fell from 368 to 230, in North Lanarkshire it dipped from 415 to 308 while in Glasgow it dropped from 505 to 416.


ACO McGown spoke out ahead of a Spring safety campaign to warn how firefighters will continue to work closely with Police Scotland to identify those responsible for risking the safety of communities.

ACO McGown added: “It absolutely goes without saying that we prefer to prevent fires – not fight fires.

“As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages, and parents and carers can also help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks.

“Deliberate fires are not only reckless and dangerous, but can divert SFRS resources away from genuine emergencies where people require our help.

“However, through robust and flexible strategic planning, our crews are always ready to respond to any incident to keep our communities safe.

“I urge the public to continue to support their firefighters by reporting any fire related anti-social behaviour because there are always people out there in need of our assistance at genuine emergencies – and every second counts.”