A RECENT incident involving two teenagers from Ferndale deliberately setting grass fires is a timely reminder ahead of the Easter Holidays.
The boys, aged 15 and 13, were spoken to by police on Monday, 8th March after they were summoned home by their parents who had been paid a visit by officers looking for their sons.
Just hours before, the teenagers were seen lighting fires by other youths who managed to alert officers patrolling nearby.
The officers headed to the location, but they boys ran away when they saw the officers approaching from a distance.
Both have now been referred to South Wales Police’s anti-social behaviour unit – a dedicated team of officers and youth workers who will now monitor and manage their behaviour, working with both the children and their parents.
They will also take part in a Fire Setter Intervention Scheme which is led by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
The interventions are part of Operation Dawns Glaw which is a multi-agency taskforce of specialists from key agencies across Wales, which is working to reduce, and where possible eliminate the impact of grass fires. Last year (2020) fire and rescue services across Wales dealt with 2,253 grass fires.
So far in March (2021) seven seperate deliberate grassfires have been recorded in the Rhondda valley by South Wales Police.
Sergeant Andy Jones, said: “Our visit came as a shock to both parents who thought their children were just going out for a walk. It shows a lack of awareness and understanding on a number of levels, but they are willing to engage with our programme which is in place to change perceptions through education.
“I want this to be a timely reminder for everybody – the Easter holidays are upon us and that, coupled with the potential for finer weather, is likely to result more deliberate fires. My plea is for parents to take responsibility for their children, and to drum into them now, the dangers and the consequences of deliberate fires.
“Many, if not most children are well aware that setting grass fires is wrong – those who alerted patrolling officers in Ferndale recently deserve praise for their actions, and I would encourage others to do the same,” he added.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Head of Risk Reduction Area Manager, Jason Evans, said: “These fires put the lives of firefighters and other emergency service workers in danger and pose a serious risk to the community. This week alone our crews have attended many grass fires across South Wales which we believe have been started deliberately. Some of the fires have been incredibly demanding, and tackling them has required intensive resourcing and the use of critical equipment. Deliberate fires are unacceptable at any time, but especially during a time of national crisis. These needless fires are diverting our resources drawing fundamental and valuable resources away from our communities, placing unnecessary risk on lives.”
Anybody who has information about a deliberately set fire can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 – or via an online anonymous form at Crimestoppers-uk.org. In an emergency they should always call 999.
photo credit: Peter A Tully