Staffordshire Fire Service is launching a hard-hitting campaign which aims to combat the number of small fires being started deliberately in the county – causing up to £8 million in damage each year.
The Flames Aren't Games initiative is targeted on the school holidays, when the numbers of incidents tend to rise.
Crews dealt with 2,281 small fires – including grass fires and bin blazes - in 2013 and 3,505 in 2011. These two years are comparable due to similar weather conditions.
Firefighters, Community Support Officers and volunteers are visiting schools and youth groups to tell young people about the dangers of deliberately starting small bin and grass blazes.
They are also emphasising the penalties for anyone caught starting fires – up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of £5,000.
Posters are set to go up at community centres, youth clubs, children’s centres, schools and leisure centres across Staffordshire.
Special leaflets and posters have also been produced aimed at adults – both parents of teenagers and members of the public – which will be delivered to rural areas that have previously been targeted by arsonists. The literature urges residents to keep an eye open for any suspicious behaviour.
Fire service head of risk reduction Glynn Luznyj said: "The Flames Aren’t Games campaign has proved to be a big success since it was initially launched in 2011 and we are committed to continuing to build upon what we have already achieved.
"Grass fires can be a particular problem during the warmer months and their tendency to spread rapidly can pose a real danger both to people and wildlife, potentially putting innocent lives at risk.
"We are doing all we can as a fire service to educate young people on the damage that can be caused by setting light to things such as grass and bins. I would urge members of the community to be our eyes and ears and to keep a lookout for any suspicious activity in their area. Also, it is absolutely vital that parents know what their children are up to during the school holidays. Being involved in this type of anti-social behaviour not only has short term effects but could have a devastating impact on young people’s long term employment prospects should they face prosecution."