Increased home fire safety visits and greater partnership working are just two factors which have contributed to a reduction in fire casualties in Aberdeenshire during 2015/16.
Recently released figures show that home fire safety visits in the region rose by almost a third in 2015/16 compared to the previous year.
That increase has coincided with a drop in accidental dwelling fires over the same period, so much so that Aberdeenshire has recorded its lowest casualty figures for accidental house fires in five years.
Deliberate fires have also decreased in Aberdeenshire with crews called out to 147 incidents in 2015/16 compared to 173 in 2014/15. Partnership working and youth engagement, particularly in the areas of Buchan and Banff, have played a key role in reducing the risk of deliberate fires.
Overall, the region has achieved improvements in five of the six key performance indicators laid out by the Aberdeenshire Local Fire and Rescue Plan 2014-17.
Local senior officer David Rout said: “Prevention remains a key focus in our community safety activity and Home Fire Safety Visits play a crucial role in reducing the chances of a fire occurring in the first place.
“We continue to develop partnerships and improve referral arrangements to help identify those most vulnerable from fire in the home. Firefighters are working closely beside local organisations such as the Sheltered Housing Initiative and Aberdeenshire Care and Repair to ensure this continues.
“I am also encouraged to see the hard work of our community partnerships paying off with the reduction in deliberate fires. This was not achieved by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service alone and credit must go to our partners in Police Scotland, local authority and local community safety groups.”
Modern firefighters must contend with much more than just fires and special services such as Road Traffic Collisions (RTC’s), other rescue situations and flooding made up 22% of all incidents in Aberdeenshire in 2015/16.
The unparalleled weather conditions faced by firefighters in the north east over winter led to a rise in attendances to flooding events and crews have also been called to assist in out of hospital cardiac arrest calls as part of a national trail in Turrif. The total number of special service casualties was 323, down from 351 in 2014/15.
Despite the total number of road traffic collisions falling by 6%, improving road safety remains a key focus for firefighters in Aberdeenshire.
LSO Rout added: “Safety on the roads is a priority for us and we’ll continue to work towards reducing RTC casualties even further through partnership initiatives and programs such as Crash Live Events.
“Our staff in Turrif have received enhanced training alongside the Scottish Ambulance Service colleagues as they attend medical emergencies as part of a national trial for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest.”
LSO Rout who is national project lead for OHCA continued: “It is vital that our firefighters are trained for all eventualities and that they can effectively handle the additional emergencies faced by a modern fire and rescue service. Our involvement in the Scottish.
“Government’s Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest strategy is one such example whereby we are maximizing on the skills and assets of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in supporting communities.”
Free home fire safety visits are available by calling SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999, by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or by filling in a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk