Fire crews in Hertfordshire called out to more garden bonfires last year

Data from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service shows that there were fewer house and building fires

Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:14 pm
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:16 pm

Firefighters were called out to deal with more bonfires last year, as residents burnt garden waste rather than take it to the tip.

Newly published data from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) shows that there were fewer house and building fires – known as ‘primary’ fires – last year (2020/21).

But there was an increase in so-called ‘secondary’ fires – which include refuse, grassland and garden fires, as well as drains and bbqs.

Data from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service shows that there were fewer house and building fires (C) Hertfordshire County Council

The data is included an annual performance report that was presented to a meeting of the county council’s public health and community safety cabinet panel on Thursday (September 9).

It shows that in 2020/21 there were 1,127 ‘primary’ fires, compared to 1,324 the year before.

But the number of ‘secondary’ fires increased from 1,113 in 2019/20 to 1,264.

Highlighting the increase in secondary fires as a “concern”, the report notes the effect of lockdown regulations, the record-breaking dry and sunny Spring and the heatwave in August.

An it states: “. . . HFRS attended a higher number of bonfires which were used by residents to dispose of garden waste which they would otherwise have taken to waste recycling centres if they had been operating normally.”

The data also shows that the number of deliberate fires involving buildings or vehicles – classed as ‘primary arson’ – fell from 387 in 2019/20 to 274 in 2020/21.

But deliberate fires involving material such as rubbish, grassland or roadside furniture – so-called ‘secondary arson’ – increased from 716 to 756.

The data also shows that in 2020/21 there were five fire related fatalities in the county – one of which was recorded as ‘suicide by fire’.

But the number of fire-related casualties – requiring treatment at a hospital – dropped from 83 last year to 41.

The report says the service is committed to reducing instances of death caused by fire in our communities to zero.

Data reported by the Fire and Rescue Service indicates there were fewer hoax calls made last year.

In 2019/20 there were 239 ‘malicious false alarms’ made to the service. But last year that fell to 151.

Crews were sent out 63 times as a result of those hoax calls – compared to 80 in the previous year.

And the annual performance report highlights the impact of those calls on the service and the actions taken to reduce them.

It states: “Emergency calls that turn out to be false alarms divert essential fire and rescue resources rendering them unavailable for more serious incidents.

“Fire Control Operators use their experience and training to identify potential malicious callers and challenge them.

“In comparison to last year, the total number of hoax calls received decreased by 37% down from 239 to 151.

“However, despite the skills of our Fire Control Operators the percentage of these calls that the Service attended rose by eight per cent.

“HFRS is committed to drive down the number of hoax calls it receives and attends and maps hotspots to target prevention activity and works with phone network providers to bar persistent offenders.”