Firefighters from the county fire service attended 3,337 blazes in 2020-21 – nine a day.
Of those, 772 were started deliberately and 2,565 were accidental.

But the total is a 12 per cent drop across the Dorset & Wiltshire brigade’s area compared with the previous year.

Now the service has issued its annual reporte, which shows the benefits of prevention.

It says: “Preventing fires in the first place reduces the cost and damage to properties, loss of business and the terrible loss of life or serious injuries. 

“By investing in prevention, we can be proactive and reduce overall cost of responding to incidents. 

“For example, in the year prior to the coronavirus pandemic, for every £1 invested in the Safe & Well provision there was a societal return of £7.80. Therefore, this activity potentially brings in £63,000 of savings to the service.”

Firefighters do a lot of work with children, visiting schools. But owing to lockdowns, the service devised online sessions. 

Its report adds: “Last year we delivered virtual safety education talks in schools, children’s groups and bespoke educational sessions, to 8,654 children. 

“In 2008, the estimated cost of a house fi re was £44,523, which with inflation would put the cost at around £60,751 today.  

“The estimated societal saving from the safety messages delivered in 2020-21 was £1.1m.”

The brigade works with young people and children who are starting fires. 

In 2020-21 it had 34 referrals to its ‘Firesetters’ programme.
The report says: “Talking to a young person early on is vital to stop the firesetting habit as soon as possible. 

“Firesetting is dangerous and we can help to explain the dangers and consequences to the young person, in a sensitive and informed manner.

“Early intervention can greatly reduce the chances of it happening again.

“For each £1 we invest in our Firesetters scheme we generate a societal saving of £4.12. This includes savings for the fire and rescue service, police, ambulance and wider NHS.

In 2020-21 this represented savings of almost £237,000.”

The report adds the service is aiming to cut the number of deliberately set fires by half, saving  £350,000 for the emergency and health services.

The highest proportion of last year’s 3,337 fires were 720 in woods, grassland or crops, followed by 696 house fires. Chimneys made up another 167 fires.