A RISE in arson incidents during the hot weather spell in July will see Calderdale firefighters struggle to meet it targets in reducing the number of deliberate fires.
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Between April and September there were a recorded 326 arson incidents in Calderdale, compared to 268 in the same period the previous year.
Although the number of building arsons is down slightly compared to last year, the large rise is down to “secondary arsons” such as deliberate grass fires and rubbish being set alight.
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The grim figures show that the service is missing its targets for arson by 43.9 per cent, and its target for secondary arsons by almost 55 per cent.
At a meeting of West Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Community Safety Committee members will be told that the rise in arsons has stretched resources and led to challenging conditions for firefighters.
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Across West Yorkshire there has been 4,967 arson incidents in the five month period, compared to 4,024 the previous year. And incidents are up in all five districts.
Earlier this summer Chris Kirby, Area Manager for West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service told members of the fire authority that record high temperatures over the summer had led to ideal conditions for fire, and that dealing with them had proven to be a challenge.
A report being presented to the committee says: “The Calderdale District Team is committed to meeting its service delivery targets. The targets continue to be very challenging because of the low figures which afford limited ability to absorb glitches in performance.
"The unusual hot period of weather in July led to a sharp increase in emergency call. The impact of this is that the District will struggle to recover its position against its arson and total activity targets. The District is performing strongly against some of its targets though, particularly road traffic collisions and actual rescues.
"The District Team continue to be pragmatic in their approach and are championing several multi-agency initiatives that are making a real difference to the safety of local communities. Current performance may not reflect the value of these initiatives but they are making a real difference to community safety.
"There has been 54 non-deliberate fires in non-domestic buildings in five months, and the committee will be told the importance of securing these buildings.
The report says: “Derelict properties can be a big target for arson and work is ongoing with the Local Authority to identify these properties and ensure the security of these premises is continually monitored."