Increase in deliberate fires sparks warning from firefighters


Release date: 10 August 2020

Starting a fire deliberately could have disastrous consequences for you, your family and your friends.

That is the message from firefighters in Horsham who have seen a rise in anti-social behaviour across the district in recent weeks.

Together with Horsham District Council, they are urging young people not to chance their luck with fire, as the consequences of a deliberate fire can be far-reaching.

Jim McGrath, Horsham Fire Station Commander, said: “We are concerned to see a rise in the number of deliberate fires in the district, especially in public areas such as play parks and woodland. Sadly it is not uncommon to see a small rise of this type of incidents during the summer months, but we would urge everyone to consider the impact of starting a fire.

“What may seem like some harmless fun can easily get out of control, especially when we have had a long periods of dry weather, which allows fire to spread incredibly quickly. This can be disastrous, not only damaging our countryside and properties, but putting people’s lives at risk. Nobody wants to have to deal with the consequences of this.”

On some occasions, the fire and rescue service had not been made aware of the fire at the time, meaning it could have burned for longer or in some cases even got out of control and caused further damage.

Commenting on the issue, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for Community Matters and Wellbeing Cllr Tricia Youtan said:” It is most disturbing, particularly in the current climate, to hear of such levels of anti-social behaviour in our district.

“Deliberate fires endanger lives and destroy the environment, and at a time when our emergency services are stretched, this behaviour simply is not acceptable, which is why we are supporting West Sussex Fire and Rescue in this matter.

“I would ask those responsible to think twice about their actions and the impact on others.”

Firefighters are encouraging members of the public to call 999 even if they think the fire is already out, so that they are aware of the incident and spot any trends that may be emerging.

If you have concerns about a young person’s behaviour and believe they could be at risk of starting a fire you can contact West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s FireWise team on 0330 2222 515 or email

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