DELIBERATE fires across Ayrshire have increased by more than 50 per cent with firefighters called to six per day.

New figures have revealed by Scottish Fire and Rescue (SFRS) show a rise in incidents during Spring last year.

SFRS were called out to a total of 342 incidents of deliberate fire-raising within areas of East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire between March and April 2019.

Most of the blazes impacted fields, refuse and countryside, but also included building and vehicle fires.

Fire chiefs have branded the rise of potentially life-threatening fires as “shocking” and have warned of the devastating consequence of deliberate fires, including a ‘drain’ on resources.

SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart said: “We take a zero-tolerance approach to deliberate fire setting and it is a small minority of individuals who are potentially putting themselves, our firefighters and innocent bystanders at risk of serious harm and injury.

“Make no mistake – fire can cause injury and death, it can be devastating to properties, businesses and the environment.

“Last year, witnessed a shocking rise in deliberate fire-raising during the Spring period.

“These incidents are a needless drain on our resources and can impact on our response to genuine emergencies – where lives might very well be at risk.”

“The fact that our firefighters are called to thousands of deliberately set fires each year is completely unacceptable.

It comes as SFRS launch their #SpringSafety campaign.

Across Scotland, a staggering 3,658 incidents of deliberate fire-raising were reported in Spring last year.

This year SFRS have vowed to do everything in its power to help Police Scotland find those who are putting communities at risk.

ACO Haggart said:“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to provide evidence that will ensure those responsible are identified and held to account for their actions.

“It is vital that we continue to remind people that deliberate fire setting is a crime and that a criminal record can affect future life and job opportunities – a price that can be easily avoided.”

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