Rubbish fires cost Scots millions say fire brigade

Nine out of ten rubbish fires are set deliberately, according to the fire service. Picture: TSPL
Nine out of ten rubbish fires are set deliberately, according to the fire service. Picture: TSPL
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RUBBISH fires involving refuse and flytipping cost Scottish taxpayers almost £16 million last year, according to the fire service.

Figures show there were 7,937 such fires in 2012/13 - almost 90% of them started deliberately.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service puts the cost of dealing with the blazes at around £15.9 million.

Businesses, homeowners and local councils spend thousands extra replacing fire-damaged skips and wheelie bins.

National anti-litter campaign Clean Up Scotland has teamed up with the fire service ahead of bonfire night to call on the public to help prevent litter fires.

The period around November 5 traditionally sees a spike in illegal fire-starting.

Carole Noble from Keep Scotland Beautiful, which runs the Clean Up campaign, said: “Something big needs to happen now to change our nation’s attitudes to the casual disposal of litter and mess.

“Flytipping is not a victimless crime. There is a substantial cost to the emergency services of up to £16 million, not to mention the estimated £11 million annual cost of clearing it from council land.

“It is up to the authorities to deal with deliberate fires of contained waste in wheelie bins and skips, but we all have a role to play to prevent fires involving litter and flytipping by not creating it in the first place.

“Bonfire Night seems like an ideal time to change our attitude towards the casual disposal of litter and waste. It is illegal and dangerous, and with the world watching us in 2014 it is a good time to cut it out.”

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay from the fire service said: “The large number of fires involving refuse, rubbish and fly tipped materials has a detrimental impact upon communities, neighbourhoods and the environment so the message to the public is simple.

“We tend to see a spike in this activity around bonfire night, so it’s particularly important to get the message out that this is not acceptable.

“Fire setting is an offence - don’t accept it, report it. If you know anything about fire setting in your neighbourhood pass the information to Police Scotland or Crimestoppers.”