Did you hear about the police constables who ran into a burning building to rouse tenants? It’s not the beginning of a joke – it really happened. It happens more than we think. Two of these police constables were new to the job, having only been on the job for a few weeks, when someone approached them about a fire that they noticed. The fire was on the 3rd floor of a block of flats and, without hesitation, these constables ran into the building to ensure everyone got out safely, even before the fire and rescue arrived on scene. Across from the flat where the fire was, they found an elderly couple who were disabled. They helped evacuate them down the stairs. In fact, everyone was evacuated safely and there were no injuries from the blaze.

That fire in the block of flats was not arson but is an example of the dangers of fire and how professionals, whether they be firefighters or police, are put in danger with every fire they encounter. There are enough accidental fires in the UK – over 40,000, in fact – that fire services have to battle without them needing to attend to fires that are deliberately set. Arson takes its toll on these services and puts many people in harm’s way.

There have been a rash of fires in Hove and the Seven Dials area that are quite concerning. One night in October, in little over 3 hours, nine fires were started in trash bins in the Seven Dials area. A few weeks before, a similar rash of fires happened in Hove. The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service sent a crew to each separate fire. The Police believe the series of fires started in bins are related. It doesn’t take much for fires to spread and there are concerns that these small arsons could easily get out of control and spread to nearby structures. We must also ask ourselves whether the arsonist will expand to larger structures and buildings.

Arson is a dangerous game. They take fire crews away from where they might be needed at a far more serious fire such as the fire in Hove in early October where a commercial building containing flats and a nursery was battled by 8 fire engines. That fire is believed to be arson, on a much larger scale than the bin fires. Did this arsonist start with smaller fires? Did they consider the lives of all involved? The firefighters who battle the blaze to the tenants or neighbours to the police constables who enter these building in hopes of saving lives – the toll of arson is huge.