Firefighters attended 66% fewer deliberately set fires across Merseyside on Bonfire Night, Friday 5 November, than on the same date last year.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) attended 26 deliberately set ASB (anti-social behaviour fires – this includes bonfires, wheelie bin and rubbish fires – between 00:00 hours and 23.59 hours on Bonfire Night, as opposed to 78 on November 5 2020.
Last year, figures were up due to the imposition of a national lockdown and the cancellation of organised firework displays and bonfires. However, this year’s figures are also lower than 2019 when crews attended 35 deliberate fires on Bonfire Night.
All areas the Service covers across Merseyside saw a decrease in deliberately set fires. Sefton and Knowsley saw the largest decrease in deliberate fires – with crews attending 2 in each district, both down from 11 in 2020 (82% decrease). St Helens saw the next largest decrease, going from 9 in 2020 to 3 in 2021 (67% decrease), and in Wirral, crews attended 4 deliberate fires, down from 9 in 2020 (56% decrease).
Liverpool saw the highest number of deliberately set fires this year, with fire crews attending 15 deliberate fires, although this is still down from 38 in 2020 (61% decrease).
MFRS also attended over 84% fewer potentially dangerous bonfires. Firefighters attended 11 potentially dangerous bonfires on November 5th 2021, compared to 68 in 2020.
Liverpool saw the highest number of such bonfires – with fire crews attending 6 in Liverpool, with Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens each recording 1 and Wirral recording 2. All areas saw a significant increase compared to last year.
In contrast, crews attended more incidents related to fireworks – up to 5 from 2 last year – on 5th November 2021. However, firefighters attended 6.3% fewer firework incidents throughout the entire bonfire period, compared to 2020.
Throughout the whole bonfire period (19 October – 7 November), firefighters have attended 218 deliberately set fires, down 19% from last year when they attended 268.
In total, fire control received 260 emergency 999 calls on November 5 in 2021, a decrease of 23% from 2020’s figure of 337. Throughout the entire period, fire control received 1,301 emergency 999 calls – down 0.5% from 2020’s figure of 1,308.
Group Manager Paul Kay said, “It is fantastic to see that the vast majority of people across Merseyside enjoyed a safe Bonfire Night. The reduction in the number of deliberate ASB fires and bonfire-related incidents is undoubtedly down to the work the Service and Partner organisations have done during this period.
“Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service received a very large volume of calls throughout the period, with our Control staff doing a fantastic job of handling them. More than 950 high visibility patrols were carried out by our Arson Team in known hot spot areas, and an additional 1,484 Home Fire Safety Checks were carried out by Prevention teams, ensuring that members of the public were kept as safe as possible.
“As well as seeing a reduction in firework incidents, we also saw a reduction in the number of attacks on our staff, although unfortunately there was still a small minority of the community that chose to attack the very people who are trying to keep them safe. This is not a Merseyside phenomenon but has sadly been experienced by Fire & Rescue Services across the country. This disgraceful and sickening behaviour is totally unacceptable. Firefighters and support staff are not targets – they are mums, dads, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, friends and families of members of the Merseyside community. They do not deserve to be attacked for simply doing their jobs.”
GM Kay added, “On November 5, we take a tolerant view of bonfires – if they are in the open, supervised by adults and under control we do not extinguish them. Those we attended and put out on Friday – those included in our statistics – were all considered to be dangerous.
“The bonfire period is always extremely busy for us as a Service, though extensive advance planning and partnership work with Merseyside Police, local authorities, registered housing providers and other community partners.
“In recent weeks, firefighters and the prevention team have been out in communities clearing away more than 54 tonnes of hazardous rubbish and fly-tipping, which could have been used as fuel for fires, and promoting the safe storage of wheelie bins to help prevent them becoming targets for arson.
“We are thankful to our communities for taking on board our safety messages and advice, and for their support in the light of the awful attacks on our staff.”
As we move into winter, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service urges everyone to make sure they have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of their home and to ensure it is tested regularly.
For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over.
NOTE: This article originally use percentages calculated by Mersey Fire and Rescue Service. These calculations were incorrect and have now been corrected.
Image: Jens Mahnke