FIRE chiefs have admitted they are concerned about the high number of deliberate blazes in Saltcoats and Stevenston.

Area commander Ian McMeekin said the service hoped to engage with community groups, as he presented his annual report to North Ayrshire Council's police and fire and rescue committee.

Mr McMeekin also revealed that the number of fires in North Ayrshire had increased by two per cent to 595 from April 1 to December 31, compared to the same period a year ago.

And he said the high incidence of deliberate blazes in the Saltcoats and Stevenston area is an area of concern which firefighters are working on.

Mr McMeekin said:  “We saw deliberate fire setting increase and we have spoken to the station commander of Kilwinning Community Fire Station, which covers Kilwinning, Saltcoats and Stevenston. 

“There are one or two areas of those wards we have to focus on, like the Ardeer area, not just about fire setting but grass fires.

“We must engage with community groups and make connections with them to see if they are fully aware of the risks.”

The annual report revealed that false alarms accounted for 1,236 calls – down eight per cent, while the total number of incidents was down six per cent to 2,164.

The number of fire casualties – four – was down 20 per cent, and the number of non-fire casualties, 63, was down seven per cent.

Also on a downward trend are deliberate fires, which have fallen from 547 in 2018-19 to 379 from April 1 to December 31.

However, 113 from that total were from Saltcoats and Stevenston, and the next highest area is Ardrossan, at 43.

In terms of accidental house fires, 39 per cent needed no fire-fighting action, and in 19 per cent of cases, direct fire-fighting action was required.

The casualties per 10,000 of the population were highest, at 11.9, in Garnock Valley.

The highest number of accidental house fires (22) was in Stevenston.