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Region’s fire hotspot revealed

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Region's fire hotspot revealed

FIRE service chiefs this week admitted that North West Dumfries continues to be a problematic “hotspot” area for firefighters.

Deliberate firesetting continues to rage on in this part of the region, despite various campaigns and educational programmes in schools.

There were 35 deliberate blazes in North West Dumfries between April 1 and September 30 last year, which accounted for 30 percent of all incidents across the region in that period.

The deliberate fires total was also significantly higher than any other location across Dumfries and Galloway, with Lochar next in line with 16 recorded.

The previous year North West Dumfries topped the list for arson, with an average of 6.5 incidents recorded every month.

The matter was raised at Nithsdale Area Committee on Wednesday as councillors pored over the figures from the Scottish Fire Service six-month performance report from last year.

Councillor Maureen Johnstone, chairwoman of the committee, said: “Deliberate fire-setting is always a concern and the North West Dumfries ward is still much higher than other areas.

“How are we working to lower this level?”

North West Dumfries Councillor Graham Bell, who has long been campaigning to address this issue in his ward, added: “I know North West Dumfries is a particularly urban area. In looking at deliberate fires, and picking this area out, where are we benchmarking fires in other urban areas of Scotland?

“Are deliberate fires fairly high in Strathclyde and other areas?

“I’m just wondering if there’s a pattern there, or is it just because we’ve got a bit of a hotspot problem in North West Dumfries?”

Fire service station commander Chris Ross said: “You’re right, certainly in Dumfries and Galloway, it is a bit of a hotspot in that area.

“We do continually work with our community safety department to reduce these figures, and we do a lot of very good work with regards to education.

“We tie in with Police Scotland and youth work to deliver the messages around deliberate firesetting. We’ve been going to schools, prior to the main holiday periods, to deliver those messages.

“With regards to benchmarking against the rest of Scotland, it’s really hard because the numbers wouldn’t necessarily mean anything without me knowing those individual areas – like we do in North West Dumfries.

“It’s very difficult to put comparators on different areas in Scotland without knowing the demographics and population of those areas.”

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