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Emergency services / Steep rise in number of accidental house fires

THE NUMBER of accidental house fires in Shetland has more than doubled in the space of a year, new figures show.

Fire chief Matt Mason said that “cooking and distraction” were the most common reasons behind the incidents.

Figures presented to a meeting of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board on Thursday showed that 21 accidental dwelling fires were recorded between April and December, compared to 10 in the same period the year before.

Shetland was unfortunately “bucking the trend” compared to the rest of Scotland, the meeting heard.

“We are focusing on some engagement with people to raise awareness about concentration and cooking, particularly when drink is involved,” Mason said.

But he said there has been a “significant decrease in casualties, which is really reassuring”.

There was only one casualty in an accidental house fire in April to December 2020 compared six the year before.

Lerwick saw the highest rise in accidental house fires when it came to the areas of Shetland, with only two recorded in 2019/20 and nine in 2020/21.

The number of non-domestic fires also increased, from four to seven.

Mason, meanwhile, also praised the ongoing work with Shetland school pupils in home fire and road safety.

He also highlighted the ongoing partnership collaboration between Shetland’s emergency services.

With regards to staffing levels Mason said the pandemic’s focus on working from home has increased accessibility at Shetland’s stations.

With home working likely to remain for some time there is also a hope this might translate into more people putting themselves forward to become retained fire fighters.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021