THE Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called out to almost 200 deliberate fire across Ayrshire last year.

Figures have revealed that, compared to 2015, there has been a large increase in deliberate and reckless fires, putting pressure on firefighters during genuine emergencies.

In 2015, there was a total of 128 deliberate secondary fires, with 64 rubbish fires, increasing to 170 deliberate fires in 2016, with 105 rubbish fires.

Assistant Chief Officer Dave McGown, who is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has a zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising because it puts our communities at great risk.

“It presents a danger to life, property and the environment.

“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to ensure that those responsible are identified and dealt with accordingly.”

“It absolutely goes without saying that we prefer to prevent fires – not fight fires.

“As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages in order to keep our communities as safe as possible.

“In the weeks prior to Bonfire Night our personnel visit schools across Scotland to talk to young people about the dangers posed by deliberate fires, as well as fireworks.”

The assistant chief fire officer added: “Parents and carers can also help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks of playing with fire and the consequences of deliberately setting a fire.

“Ensuring you are aware of where the children or young people you look after are and what they’re doing can help keep everyone safe from deliberate fires.”

Anyone with information about deliberate fire-raising should contact the free and confidential Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.