Release date: 11 December 2020
Firefighters are urging people not to play with fire this winter after a string of fires in public places across Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
Over the last month, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has been made aware of at least 15 fires that were started deliberately, most involving public toilets, bins or skips.
On October 20, WSFRS was alerted to five fires in the course of the day at public toilets in Chichester and Bognor Regis.
There have also been five instances of fires being started in the public toilets at Avisford Park in Bognor Regis in the last month.
There have been further fires involving a bus stop on Bilsham Road in Yapton on October 30, and deliberate fires involving wheelie bins and skips in East Preston, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
Nicki Peddle is WSFRS’s Head of Prevention. She said: “It is concerning to see a rise in the number of deliberate fires, especially in such a short space of time and involving public facilities.
“What is particularly concerning is that we know fireworks were used in at least one of these deliberate fires, and as we move into the New Year period I would urge everyone to consider the risks of messing around with fireworks.
“It might seem like harmless fun at the time, but a deliberately started fire can very easily get out of control and become a much larger fire.
“On some occasions, we were not called to attend these fires at the time, which means there was the potential for the fire to have burned for longer and caused further damage.
“I would urge members of the public to call 999 even if they think the fire is already out, so that we are aware of the incident and able to spot any trends that may be emerging.”
Chief Inspector Jon Carter, Police District Commander for Arun and Chichester, said: “We work closely with the fire and rescue service and local authorities to seek to prevent such incidents, and ask local people to remain alert and report any suspicious activity to us on 999. Officers are deployed to deal with issues such as these in the area. Dispersal powers have and will continue to be used where proportionate, and where we identify offenders we will use the whole range of powers available to protect the community."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.