Mixed fire report for Midlothian

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The local fire officer spoke of positives and negatives when giving the latest fire report for Midlothian to the Police, Fire and Rescue Board last month.

Scottish Fire and Rescue’s area manager for Midlothian, East Lothian and the Borders, David Farries, revealed the figures for the final quarter of 2015-16 (January 1 – March 31) to councillors.

During this period 227 home fire safety visits were carried out and 98 smoke detectors were fitted within Midlothian. There were 44 deliberate fires, a decrease of nine on the same period last year.

Nearly 66 per cent of the incidents attended were “deliberate secondary fires” in waste or scrubland, 12 per cent were car fires and 12 per cent involved bins.

Of the 19 dwelling fires attended, nearly 60 per cent occurred in single-occupancy households with 30 per cent being in the over-65 category. The main causes were cooking (60 per cent) and smoking materials (15 per cent).

Meanwhile, the fire service attended 58 unwanted fire alarm signal incidents during this reporting period, which is an increase of five on the same period last year.

Mr Farries said: “It’s a mixed report, with some good news stories in there.

“The drop in dwelling fires casualties is a good news story. Fitting smoke detectors does work, as you can see from the number of casualties.

“In the last five years they have come down from 29 to ten. One hundred per cent were confined to room of origin. It proves that the fire prevention work that has been carried out over the last 20 years has come to fruition.

“However we actually have to reduce the number of fires in the first place as our priority. We would love all the figures to go down. Some are in our control and some are not.”

There were no fire fatalities in this reporting period. The report before councillors commented: “Historically Midlothian has had low numbers of casualties from fires and it is pleasing that trend is continuing to reduce. The casualties who were rescued received first aid at the scene and did not attend hospital.”

During the entire financial year 2015-16, Scottish Fire and Rescue responded to 1224 incidents in Midlothian, an increase of 112 from 2014-15.

The fire service attended 13 road traffic collisions during 2015-16, an increase of two on the previous year, and its highest figure for five years, putting Midlothian above the national average.

Mr Farries added: “I discussed with chief executive Kenneth Lawrie, concerns about the number of cars on the road in Midlothian. That’s something we will be looking at very seriously in the future.”