FIREFIGHTERS have issued a warning to householders across Teesside after latest figures show a 33 per cent rise in accidental house fires.
Since the beginning of April there have been 65 accidental fires, compared to 44 in the same period last year.
The increase follows an announcement earlier this year that there has been a 54 per cent increase in the overall number of all types of fire calls from 1,985 in 2012-13 to more than 3,000 in 2013-14.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection for Cleveland Fire Brigade, said the latest increase in accidental house fires was partly down to kitchen fires, with pans being left unattended and cooker fat not being cleaned.
He said: “It is the first time in several years that the number of fires in the home has started to rise and I am concerned.
“By leaving pans on the hob unattended and not cleaning your grill pans, people are putting themselves and their families at serious risk. Half of all accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen.”
One of the reasons for the overall 54 per cent increase in fire calls that was the number of arsons rose from 1,390 in 2012-13 to more than 2,200 in 2013-14. However some of the increase was down to hot weather causing grass and rubbish fires.
Arson accounts for 76 per cent of all fire-related incidents in Cleveland and the brigade has estimated the cost to the local economy to be about £14m a year. In April the brigade issued tips on helping to reduce incidents of arson which included ensuring wheelie bins and black bags are not left lying around.
In February the Government announced the brigade, which has already had its budget cut by £4m in recent years, must reduce it by a further £6m by 2018. Cleveland Fire Brigade has responded by announcing that 130 full time jobs would be lost but 67 part time staff would be taken on.
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the budget cut could mean the brigade can take fewer proactive steps to reduce fires. However the Government has pointed out that the brigade had doubled its own reserves from £4.9m in 2009 to £10.8m in 2012.
Cleveland Fire Brigade offers residents a free Home Fire Safety Visit, where firefighters will come to your home. Free smoke alarms will be supplied and fitted if needed. Call 01429 874063 or visit clevelandfire.gov.uk to find out more.