Landlords of derelict buildings are being urged to remember their responsibility to keep them safe and secure – and ensure they don’t become targets for anti-social behaviour.
The Arson Task Force, which is a partnership between Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police, work together to reduce Anti-Social Behaviour and Arson related incidents as well as working with children, young people and adults involved in deliberate fire setting.
The call to action comes after a recent increase in fires being started in derelict and void buildings across the county – with three incidents in a 23-day spell.
Incidents tend to increase ahead of the school holidays and summer period, and although not every fire can be prevented, the Task Force want to make sure owners have taken every precaution possible to prevent deliberate fires from being set on their vacant properties.
Kelly Crockett, an Arson Reduction Co-ordinator in the Arson Task Force, said: “Building owners and landlords should ensure that their properties are secured and that regular checks are carried out to mitigate the risks.
“It is the responsibility of owners to ensure that their buildings are safe and do not become targets for anti-social behaviour, and they must be aware of the impact it can have if they do not adhere to those responsibilities.”
As well as liaising with business owners, the Arson Task Force can offer help and advice to adults and young people who display fire setting behaviours.
They are asking that parents ensure that their children are aware of the dangers that void and empty properties can pose, and that starting deliberate fires there can put not only themselves at risk but also other people.
Derelict buildings can often appear exciting places to explore, however they have hidden dangers such as unsafe flooring, walls and roofing structures that could potentially be unstable and on the verge of collapse, as well as live electricity supplies.
Kelly Crockett added: “These buildings can also be used for illegal activities such as drug taking which increases the danger of used needles laying around and there is also the risk that homeless people may be using these buildings to sleep and shelter – which potentially puts their lives at risk as well in the event of a fire.
“They can often pose a danger to our attending crews and officers, so we are urging people not to explore or play in these buildings due to the risks posed to the emergency services.”
Landlords can find out more information on their responsibilities at the following web page: Landlord Fire Safety Law and your responsibilities – Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (northantsfire.gov.uk)
If you have any information about a deliberately started fire at a derelict building, then you should contact FireStoppers on 0800 169 5558 or complete the online form at www.firestoppersreport.co.uk
If you see a fire in progress, you should call 999 and ask for the Fire Service.