New ways of working for Daventry fire teams to tackle arsonists

The scene of the underpass arson with the rural intervention vehicle.
The scene of the underpass arson with the rural intervention vehicle.

The recent spike in arsons around Daventry has prompted new ways of working for the town’s fire service to engage with more young people.

Firefighters are now going out on patrol in partnership with the police and council, and are planning on doing more work in the evenings and weekends to reach more young people in the town.

Warren Ellison, fire service manager at Daventry Fire Station, said: “The Community Safety Partnership, the police and ourselves have been doing foot patrols around the town to identify risks, like overfilled bins or bags of rubbish left out. And we’re working with Daventry District Council on that front too. We’ve spoken to businesses about fire risk assessments. It’s about removing the temptation for someone to start a fire using business waste.

“If your bins are out the back of your shop they should be in your fire risk assessment, because image if they catch fire and block the exit to a flat about the units.

“We’ve also been out to Daventry Country Park, speaking to young people. That’s about identifying if they’ve been drinking when they shouldn’t, or if they’re vulnerable.

“When the schools were still in, we visited them, and now we’re looking at going out to the community events and youth activities over the summer.

“The joint police and fire rural intervention team is also involved.

“It’s a big change for us at the fire station. Traditionally we are a response organisation – we get called out once a fire has started. Now we are doing community work to try and keep people safe and prevent fires.

“Daventry has a day crew, but at nights and weekends it’s the retained crew that are on duty.

“In the past the day crew would go out to do some community work when it could, visit schools and things like that, but now we’re looking at getting the retained crew to be available to go to places like the Phoenix Centre in the evenings when the young people are there, doing the patrols as well.”

The risk assessment work has been brought on by the recent spate of small-scale arsons in the town.

On Sunday afternoon fire crews were called to the underpass between Welton Road and the Country Park after a fire was started, apparently using petrol or similar fluid. Two weeks ago a bin was set alight to the rear of Waitrose.

Mr Ellison said: “It is small scale things at the moment, but we’ve had two incidents where a bin in one case and in the other a motorcycle were set slight against a house wall. They could easily have become far more serious house fires.

“We don’t get this type of activity in Daventry normally.

“My concern is that there may be someone or a group that have a fascination with fire. It starts with bins and low level stuff, but it can end up being far worse.”