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‘Alarming’ rise in Norfolk arson attacks

PUBLISHED: 16:36 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 11 March 2019

Norfolk firefighters saw a 40pc rise in arsons. Picture: Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Norfolk firefighters saw a 40pc rise in arsons. Picture: Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Concern at the rising number of arsons in Norfolk has prompted the county’s fire chief to pump extra resources into trying to reduce the increase.

Stuart Ruff, acting chief fire officer for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Pic Norfolk County CouncilStuart Ruff, acting chief fire officer for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Pic Norfolk County Council

There were 652 arsons in the county in 2017/18, up 40pc on the previous year.

The statistics were revealed at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, where John Ward, Conservative county councillor for Sprowston, said the rise was “alarming”.

Acting chief fire officer Stuart Ruff, who has taken the helm of the fire service after the recent resignation of former chief David Ashworth, said: “I can confirm we are putting resources in to tackle that increase, liaising with business partners and with our community liaison team who work with the police.”

The service attended 2,184 fires in 2017/18, which was 136 more than over the previous 12 months.

More than 750 people were rescued in the 7,414 total incidents the service went to.

There were 430 accidentally-started blazes in people’s homes - 34 more than the previous year.

There were two deaths and 21 injuries, compared to two deaths and 18 injuries in 2016/17.

Firefighters also went to 738 road crashes, where 153 trapped people were released from their vehicles. However, that was down on the high of 1,793 in 2015/16.

Mr Ruff said the drop was due to changes in when fire crews are mobilised to such crashes, bringing the county in line with other fire and rescue services.

The service attended slightly fewer false non-domestic automatic fire alarms, down 1pc to 976 from 987 the year before.

But the service missed its target to get the first appliance to 80pc of incidents where lives may be at risk within 10 minutes and the second appliance within 15 minutes.

Performance was, however, up on last year, with the target met 78.8pc of the time, compared to 78.4pc the year before. Mr Ruff acknowledged a shortage of retained firefighters was affecting the service’s ability to hit that target.

Lorne Green, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, who attended the communities committee, quizzed Mr Ruff on what assurances he could offer to people over the occasions when the target was not hit.

Mr Ruff said work was being done to provide cover for retained crews and to recruit new retained firefighters.

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