Warning issued over fire hydrant vandalism

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Scottish Water, Scottish Fire and Rescue, and Police Scotland are warning the public about the consequences of fire hydrant vandalism and urging communities to help avoid lives being put at risk.

The three organisations are urging people not to set off fire hydrants and calling on anyone who witnesses this type of vandalism to report it to police without delay.

Fire hydrant vandalism incidents tend to spike during warm, dry weather. In May there were 38 reports of incidents across Scotland, some of which caused disruption of water supply to customers, reduced water pressure or discoloured water, and localised flooding in streets.

Nineteen of those incidents took place in the Glasgow area.

There have also been a number of incidents last month including Newton Mearns, Knightswood, Maryhill, Stepps.

John Griffen, Scottish Water’s operations manager in the Glasgow area, said: “Some may see it as ‘harmless fun’ but that’s not the case. The reality is that as they play in the water, homes and businesses are suffering low water pressure or no water at all.

“What’s more, firefighters rely on these hydrants for fighting fires and a shortage of water could endanger people’s lives and property.”

He added: “Fire hydrant vandalism is completely reckless and selfish and communities need to help us put a stop to this behaviour before the unthinkable occurs. We’re urging people to help us tackle the problem by reporting any incidents to the police immediately.”

Echoing these sentiments, Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “We appreciate the majority of people are responsible members of society who would never consider vandalising public property.

“However, there remains a very small element who can endanger lives by needlessly vandalising fire hydrants.

“It is absolutely essential that our firefighters have access to water sources at times of emergency and having an operational hydrant close-by can ensure flames are extinguished quicker and help protect lives as well as property.

“Those who tamper with fire hydrants also risk serious injury to themselves or others due to the potential sudden release of high water pressure.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service takes this matter extremely seriously and we urge everyone to help protect their communities by reporting any vandalism of fire hydrants to our partners at Police Scotland.”

Inspector Allan Elderbrant of Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland’s focus is on keeping people safe. Causing damage to fire hydrants or interfering with them in any way is extremely dangerous, not only for those involved but also for the wider community.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service require immediate access to hydrants when attending incidents. The impact of a damaged hydrant at the scene of a fire causes a delay which could lead to serious injury or the loss of life.

“Police Scotland will take appropriate action against anyone found misusing or vandalising fire hydrants and we would ask the public to report all incidents immediately by calling 999 in an emergency and 101 for non-urgent enquiries.”

Fire hydrants can be accessed legally only by Scottish Water, Scottish Fire and Rescue and anyone who has been given permission from Scottish Water.

Vandalising or setting off a fire hydrant could lead to a fine of up to £5000.

Anyone who witnesses fire hydrant vandalism can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or give the information anonymously on www.fearless.org, which is part of Crimestoppers.