Steep rise in non-fire emergencies in Marr

Open fires and wood burning stoves caused a number of accidental house fires in the Marr area following Storm Arwen as residents tried to heat their homes amid power shortages.

By Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 8:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 8:08 am
Between October 1 and December 31 crews in the area attended a total of 104 incidents.
Between October 1 and December 31 crews in the area attended a total of 104 incidents.

Between October 1 and December 31 crew in the area attended a total of 104 incidents including four deliberate fires, six accidental house fires and 40 non-fire emergencies.

The latest area report was discussed by members of the Marr Area Committee on Tuesday, March 29.

Station commander Colin Westwood said that of the six accidental house fires, three had been directly related to Storm Arwen.

The storm hit Aberdeenshire in November last year and left many residents in the region without power for up to a week later.

Mr Westwood explained: “Obviously as we are all aware a vast majority of the area lost power and mobile phone signal, and as a result people were resorting to putting on their wood burning stoves or open fires that hadn’t been on for a long time and three of these accidental fires were down to exactly that.

“On the back of that one of the issues we did find was because there was no mobile phone signal the individuals concerned had a lot of difficulty calling out the fire service in a timely manner.”

Mr Westwood also noted that there had been a “very steep” rise in non-fire emergencies, up to 40 from 23 at the same period last year, however he said this was mostly due to Storm Arwen.

He said: “We had quite a few road traffic collisions, a lot of them were very minor RTCs with debris from trees falling on vehicles or vehicles getting stuck between fallen trees on the road.

“Also a big part of our job was what we call making safe.

"Due to the storm we had a lot of buildings that became unsafe and we had to go out and either remove things like signs above premises or loose chimney pots so that increased our workload during that storm period.”

Mr Westwood also said that most of the deliberate fires crews attended involved grass or woodland areas after incidents of burning rubbish got out of control.

Councillor Geva Blackett thanked the service for its response to the recent fire at the Braemar Lodge Hotel.

Fire crew from as far as Broughty Ferry made the journey to battle the blaze as the team in Braemar had been hit by a covid outbreak.

Councillor Blackett said the incident “highlighted how vulnerable the crews are” and asked what could be done to encourage people to become retained firefighters.

She said: “It’s such a vital role and lives depend on it.”

Covid cases across the country are at a record high at the moment and Mr Westwood said that the fire service “does not escape that”.

He said: “Communities do depend on having a fire engine available but unfortunately we have been in the position where we have had members of staff from the same station who have come down with covid and unfortunately that puts that appliance off the run.”

He added: “Everybody in the community has a role to play in trying to encourage people to join the retained service because it is vital for our communities across Aberdeenshire.”