A FIRE campaign has been launched in a bid to prevent spring fire injuries and deaths across South Tyneside.
Parents and children are being targeted in the initiative to reduce the number of fires being started deliberately.
Not only do anti-social behaviour fires cause damage to property, the environment and tie up firefighters unnecessarily, but they can have fatal consequences.
Dave Jefferson, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “The busiest time of year for antisocial behaviour fires is actually April.
“Most people think it’s November, when we are busy with the bonfire period, but that’s not the case, although that is our next-busiest time.
“Once the clocks change and we have lighter nights we see a real increase in these types of fires.
“They accounted for 77 per cent of all fire calls we attended during April 2013, and we saw a peak between 7pm and 8pm.
“The increase also coincides with the Easter school holidays.
“We work closely with our partners such as the local authorities and the police to tackle the issue of setting fires deliberately, as it is a criminal offence.”
“Most of these fires occur on grassland, woodland, wasteland, in fields, parks and playgrounds.
“They are usually started by people setting fire to rubbish, grass, fly-tipping, hedges and fences.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will be working closely with local authorities to carry out clean-ups to get rid of any rubbish or fly-tipping.
Primary school children will be shown a hard-hitting DVD, depicting what could happen as a result of setting an anti-social behaviour fire.
A campaign to ensure householders take care of their wheelie bins to avoid them becoming a target for fires is also taking place.
Mr Jefferson said: “I would urge parents to make sure they know what their children are doing if they go out during the lighter nights.”