Parents are being urged to remind their children about the dangers of deliberately starting grass fires ahead of the schools’ summer holiday.
The call comes as part of the high profile Flames Aren’t Games campaign by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The initiative aims to tackle anti-social behaviour which has traditionally seen an increase during the six-week break.
Since the hard-hitting scheme was launched the number of small fires including grass and bin blazes has dropped significantly.
Crews dealt with 2,281 incidents of this nature in 2013 and 3,505 in 2011, when the project was initially rolled out. These two years are comparable due to similar weather conditions.
There were 433 in the east of the county, 1,413 in the north and 435 in the west last year. This compares to 712, 1,812 and 981 respectively in 2011.
Firefighters, Community Support Officers and volunteers have been visiting schools and youth groups to tell young people about the dangers of deliberately starting small bin and grass blazes.
They have highlighted the potential punishments for anyone caught starting fires – up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of £5,000.
Posters will be displayed in community centres, youth clubs, children’s centres, schools and leisure centres across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
A special leaflet and posters have also been produced aimed at adults – both parents of teenagers and general members of the public. They have been delivered to rural areas previously targeted by arsonists. The literature urges people to keep an eye open for any suspicious behaviour.
A range of events are also taking place throughout the county to provide young people with positive ways to entertain themselves during the summer break.
Visit http://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/events.asp for more details.
Postcards featuring the Teenage Caveman competition, in which a Playstation 4 is up for grabs, will be handed out during events. For a chance to win, young people aged 18 and under should visit www.teenagecaveman.co.uk
Head of Risk Reduction Glynn Luznyj said: “We are absolutely determined to tackle grass fires which tend to increase during school holidays, particularly the six-week break when the weather is warmer.
“Not only do small fires cause a staggering £8 million in damage every year, even worse, they have the potential to put innocent lives at risk. Grass fires spread rapidly and pose a very real danger both to people and wildlife.
“As part of the Flames Aren’t Games campaign, our teams have been visiting schools across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent educating young people on the possible consequences of deliberately setting fires. What the culprits may consider to be a bit of fun can have a long lasting impact on their future. It can affect employment prospects and could even lead to a prison sentence.”