By Steve Hayes 10/05 Updated: 15/05 08:07
ARSON attacks in Warwickshire have cost an astonishing £22 million in the last four years - new figures reveal.
In the last year Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service have dealt with 1,249 deliberately lit fires - with a total of 1,652 fire engine callouts required to tackle them.
Deliberate attacks on businesses cost an average of £4,365 in resources while arson attacks on domestic premises cost an estimated £12,800.
Fire chiefs in the county set the reduction of arson attacks as a key target when the so-called improvement plan was unveiled more than two years ago and they claim in that time the economic cost of arson has halved.
But over the past four years arson attacks have still cost a total of £21,830,084 - both the cost to the fire service and the cost to communities - including clean-up costs.
Around half of the fires attended were rubbish or bin fires, with the biggest being derelict buildings and skips.
Ian Tonner, the service's arson reduction manager, said attacks devastated communities.
He said: "Deliberate fire setting is not only dangerous for the individual involved, but it can devastate communities, schools and businesses. In the worst cases, lives can be lost.
"Ultimately, our priority is to keep the public and our firefighters safe and reducing arson and anti-social behaviour plays a big part in how we achieve that.
"We also need to support businesses to stay in business during this economic downturn, by educating them on how to reduce the risks of arson attacks on their premises.
Mr Tonner added Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service had already reduced arson and would continue to do so through a host of initiatives.
He continued: "In just two years we have managed to almost halve the economic cost of fire in Warwickshire.
"This has been driven by both preventative measures and an excellent operational response.
"However, we can not be complacent, which is why we have recently launched our Small Fires Unit, which is already working in communities affected by arson."
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