Cumnock and the Doon Valley areas are a hotbed of wilful fireraising with 655 deliberate fires set this year.

The areas of Cumnock, New Cumnock, The Doon Valley and Ballochmyle had the highest number of deliberate blazes in East Ayrshire over the year, with Scotland’s top fireman pleading with firestarters to stop scarring the area and needlessly risking lives.

Since the beginning of the year the Doon Valley has had 245 deliberate fires, with 308 incidents in Ballochmyle and 102 in Cumnock and New Cumnock.

Of figures recorded across East Ayrshire, Kilmarnock, including Hurlford and Crosshouse has a total of 469 incidents with Annick 82 in total and 73 incidents in the Irvine Valley.

Papers before East Ayrshire’s Police and Fire and Rescue Committee yesterday (Tuesday, August 27) state The Doon Valley also had the highest number of deliberate blazes between April 1 and June 30 this year with 56 incidents, with 46 recorded in Ballochmyle, and 19 in Cumnock and New Cumnock.

David Dourley, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Head of Fire Investigation (FI), said: “It’s frustrating because deliberate fire setting is a needless act and puts lives at risk.

“Individuals involved, or near the event, are at risk and the risk of injury to our hard-working crews is increased – road users are also put at unnecessary risk as we make our way to an incident.

“Whether it’s a large or small-scale incident, the resources we deploy should not really be there. They should be ready at the station to attend a genuine emergency where lives may need to be saved.

“It goes without saying we will always attend every emergency call, but attending deliberate fires or being redirected to one means that our fire appliances and personnel aren’t available when and where they should be.

“Deliberate fire setting is antisocial behaviour and must be treated as such. Fire incidents blot the landscape and impact on communities.

“It’s not a nice place for people to live and work when they have burnt fire debris and areas left destroyed by unwanted behaviour.

“Think about the impact on the area you and your family are living in - it’s your community, why would you damage it?

“Look after the area you live in and let your community flourish.”

“There is a spike in the number of deliberate fire setting incidents during periods of better weather.

“Whether it’s boredom for individuals with nothing better to do or people looking for a bit of drama with the fire service turning up, I don’t know.”

“But sometimes giving people an understanding of the consequences of starting a fire is all that’s needed to prevent this sort of behaviour from happening.

“We engage with communities and our message is clear - antisocial behaviour is not acceptable in modern day society.

“Importantly, when we combine our expertise with Police Scotland partners and local authority intelligence groups, we can identify those involved and hold them to account.

“We rely on partners and people in communities to support us to identify those responsible for setting deliberate fires so that they can be held to account.”