Malicious Fires

The DUP’s Simon Hamilton has picked up on an interesting and rather depressing point. He has discovered, in a written answer from Michael McGimpsey that 40% of the Fire Service budget is spent on tackling malicious fires. Apparently £150 million has been spent on tackling 70,000 non accidental fires in the past 5 years.

Interviewed on Radio Ulster this morning, Mr. Hamilton said that the comparative figures for the rest of the UK show a significantly lower level of malicious fires. Exactly what the comparative level is would be interesting as would the number of prosecutions here for malicious fires.

  • Bigger Picture

    “Stephen Hamilton”

    Are there new DUP staffers I am not aware about? Heavens above I will never get a cushy quango job at this rate!!!!

    Seriously, it is rather shocking and it is i am sure comparative for the other emergency services. Surely we need more investment in our young people especially to try and move away from this.

    You looking forward to the 12th Turgon? Where will you be?


  • Turgon


    Apologies for mistake and thank you for correction. I will be for South Londonderry’s 12th. I think it is Magherafelt this year but being in a band, I just turn up and go on the bus.

  • fair_deal
  • shamtastic

    These depressing figures underline the need to keep the politically partial away from education and youth services.

  • Mike C

    Surely this is a nonsense issue from Mr Hamilton. Surely one of the prime raison d’etre for the Fire Service is to tackle malicious fires. The main issue is the waste of resources in responding to hoax calls.

  • interested

    Mike C
    The prime raison d’etre for the Fire Service is tacking all fires, however if they’re tied up putting out one started by some little spides because they’ve got nothing better to do then they won’t have the resources to go to your granny’s house when her chip pan accidentally goes on fire.

    The hoax calls are another seperate, but equal problem.

  • Turgon, there have been numerous fires during May and June in the vicinity of the miniature railway that runs between the Giants Causeway and Bushmills.

    Questions have been asked about the possibility of some of these fires being ignited by one of the engines as well as why the train continued to run while the fires were burning close to the track.

    Questions have also been asked about the risks created by the bollards erected by Moyle District Council in so far as they restrict access for emergency service vehicles both to the trackside and to the beach. It’s been estimated that on one occasion it took upwards of forty minutes to obtain the keys.

    There’s also the curious tale of a fire tender going onto private property to turn – and finding itself locked in before it could exit!!

  • Mike C


    you will note I said it was one of the raison d’etre…

    Did Simon Hamilton’s party colleague, George Robinson, not raise the issue of malicious fires only last week?

    Perhaps Simon is saying they should only tackle my granny’s chippan fires. What is he proposing should be done? Is saying all malicious fires are caused by “spides”? What about those malicious fires that are caused by fraudualent insurance scams? Does damage caused by bonfires count as malicious damage since they were started deliberately? (since criminal damage is that which is caused through intent to cause damae or recklessness as to whether such damage would be caused)

  • interested

    Mike C
    Is it possible to have several raison’s d’etre?

    AFAIK George Robinson raised the issue of fires in Limavady – of which there seems to have been a massively high number. The problems however is not restricted to just Limavady or the East Londonderry constituency in particular.

    I’m curious why you seem to want to twist the issue…

    “Perhaps Simon is saying they should only tackle my granny’s chippan fires.”

    I don’t believe that you could in any way take that from anything he’s said. But it does stand to reason that they’ll be much more likely to be able to attend your granny, and get there more quickly if they’re not out tacking some derelict building which has been torched by hoods. Which part of that do you have a problem with?

    It was me who used the “spides” line. Yes of course ‘insurance jobs’ are equally as bad. However, I don’t think that too many gorse fires (of which there have been many this year) are started as insurance jobs. Those in particular take a huge amount of time and reources to deal with.

    Sometimes bonfires do require Fire & Rescue Service callouts – and of course that has to be taken into account. They shouldn’t be built in places where they’re likely to cause damage – and I believe that if they do cause damage to a property then the organisers should pay for it.

    The only mitigating factor in terms of bonfires is that at least we know when they’ll be lit – meaning that extra resources can at least be on hand to ensure that your granny’s call out can be dealt with too.

  • interested

    And I apologise – I realise it should have been raisons d’etre!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sadly, I don’t expect to see Simon Hamilton asking any questions about the cost of the busiest single period of time for the fire brigade, namely the 11th night, and the associated costs to the DRD Roads Service and local councils to repair roads surfaces, football pitches, buildings damaged by drunken rampages, as well as the cost of putting out the fires; nor will we hear anything about the massive costs of policing and maintaining order over the marching season.

    What a bunch of hypocrites.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dealing with the matter under discussion, how about giving the fire service the authority to utterly soak anyone in the immediate vicinity of the fires they put out ? Then all the peelers need to do is round up the wet people.

    More seriously, I found out recently when the fire service attended a malicious fire near me, that they have no facility for properly dealing with non-emergency calls. If kids set fire to a wheelie bin on waste ground, it’s not really an emergency even though it needs putting out. Perhaps they need a direct-dial line, like the one the police have, which gets you in touch with the police without taking up valuable resources on the 999 service.

  • joeCanuck

    the cost of the busiest single period of time for the fire brigade, namely the 11th night, and the associated costs to the DRD Roads Service and local councils to repair roads surfaces, football pitches, buildings damaged by drunken rampages,

    Have to agree, Comrade. I fully understand the emotive effect of fires, having spent manys a lovely night at a camp bonfire, swapping lies and telling jokes etc.
    So I wouldn’t ban them. But they do need to be limited in number and well controlled to minimise the costs to the public purse.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe, we agree. A ban would not work. But someone needs to draw a line. I appreciate the need that some people have to celebrate their heritage, but the mess, destruction and crime should not be tolerated. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for leadership, though.

    How can politicians complain about the cost of vandalism and fire damage, and yet bury their heads rather than show real leadership over how the 11th night bonfires can be better regulated ?

  • willis

    Speaking of 11th night bonfires, is it too much to hope that our new Environment Minister will be photographed grinning inanely in front of a burning pyre of tyres?