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Commercial Services
Farm Fire
Press Release - Fire service issues warning after spate of barn fires
Posted on 01/03/2018

Farm owners in South Devon are being warned to stay vigilant after fire crews attended six deliberate barn fires in six weeks.

All the incidents involved a number of fire crews attending the scenes for long periods of time. On the night of 1 January, fire crews rescued a man from a flat fire in Paignton at the same time as colleagues from other areas were dealing with a barn fire in Denbury.

South Devon Group Commander Matt Johnson, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said:  “When someone deliberately sets fire to a barn they are committing a serious criminal offence and potentially putting the lives of the public and firefighters at risk.

“There are often combustible materials such as gas cylinders, fertilisers, chemicals or fuel in barns which can be extremely dangerous when in contact with fire. In addition, these are often time-consuming fires to deal with, which means fire crews may not be available for other incidents.”

The incidents were as following: 18 November 2017, Compton; 29 November 2017, Compton; 1 December 2017, Kingskerswell; 21 December 2017, Stokeinteignhead; 1 January 2018, Denbury; and 2 January 2018, Dawlish Water.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has issued advice on how to reduce the risk of arson on farms:
• Maintain a good standard of security for all outbuildings
• Prevent easy access to fuel and chemical stores
• Repair or replace any damaged fencing or gates
• Make sure warning notices are displayed
• Install intruder sensors and security lighting
• Dogs or geese can give an early warning of intruders

Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Further information

• Chief Officer Lee Howell of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is the Independent Chair of the National Arson Prevention Forum (APF) which has coordinated the production of the recent ‘Arson: State of the Nation 2017’ report which can be found at

Contributions to the report were provided by a number of organisations including central government, Crown Prosecution Service, UK Police Services, UK Fire & Rescue Services, along with insurance industry and business representative organisations. 
• Arson is a crime linked to domestic violence, terrorism, harassment and anti-social behaviour, as well as fraud.
• Data in the ‘Arson: State of the Nation 2017’ report shows that deliberate fires in other buildings (which includes farm outbuildings and commercial buildings) have increased by 19%.  The long term trend which had seen deliberate fires reducing has now reversed with increases in both 2015/16 and 2016/17.
• The insurance industry are a significant contributor to the ‘Arson: State of the Nation 2017’ report with both the Fire Protection Association (FPA) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) providing data, alongside organisations such as NFU Mutual (a member of the ABI) who insure 75% of UK farms. 
• The ABI advise that 29% of all commercial fire claims in the UK can be considered deliberate and insurers are paying out £1bn in fire related claims each year. 
• 47% of all fires attended by Fire and Rescue Services in England are classed as deliberate (161,770 total fires with 76,106 deliberate fires).
• Farm owners are encouraged to make contact with their insurer to discuss risk mitigation measures.  The ‘Arson: State of the Nation’ report highlights that insurers seek to work with policyholders to reduce risk through good arson deterrent measures and through good arrangements for controlling the spread of fire.

Associated Documents

Farm fire safety leaflet
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