The Fire Service has joined forces with blue light partners to issue a strong wake-up call to arsonists targeting the former Yorkshire Martyrs Catholic College building in Tong, Bradford, warning that they are risking their lives by entering the derelict site.
The caution comes after a spate of deliberate fires at the site during 2017 and especially in recent weeks.
Since the beginning of 2017, firefighters have had to attend the site 10 times to extinguish deliberately set fires – seven times were in August alone, indicating that this activity may have become a holiday high jinx for foolhardy youngsters.
But the Fire Service and its emergency partners are warning it’s no joke and not only are young people committing a serious crime, but they are also endangering themselves and others.
The Fire Service is arranging a multi-agency meeting to discuss what further steps can be taken and is also in contact with the site’s owner.
The most recent incident was just last night (August 31) when fire crews responded to a small secondary blaze at the site.
Before that there was an arson attack on August 28 shortly before 2020 hrs when four engines attended, and then again less than 12 hours later two engines were sent, shortly after 0600 hrs the next day (August 29).
Prior to this year’s spate, in March 2015, 16 fire engines were called in after a major deliberate blaze at the site.
Assistant District Commander for Bradford Mick Fox, said: “We cannot stress strongly enough how dangerous it is to enter this derelict site and the recent spate of deliberate fires leaves us with the pressing concern that it’s only a matter of time before there is a fatality here.
“Sites like this are potential death traps to young people, who possibly, spurred on by bravado, are taking reckless actions and making bad decisions and we urge parents to step in now if they have their suspicions, because the distress of losing a loved one like this is a terrible thing to bear.
“There are all sorts of hazards including the danger of structural collapse and firefighters themselves are risking their lives to respond to unwarranted fires.”
Earlier this year 14-year-old boy, Myles Johnstone, tragically died in a fall at a disused building near Kirkstall, Leeds.
On 20 June, a 12-year-old boy was injured at a disused factory in Armley and a 13-year-old boy was hurt at a derelict building in Garforth, on 28 May.
Andrew Simpson, a Sector Commander at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We would urge young people to think very carefully about just how dangerous derelict buildings are and the consequences that their actions could have for them and their families. As we have seen this year, entering such sites can very quickly turn into tragedy and we would encourage young people to keep themselves safe by staying out.”
Coun Abdul Jabar, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “Derelict buildings are not playgrounds they are potential death traps.
“We should ensure that children are aware of the dangers and are encouraged to stay well away from them.”
Chief Inspector Mick Rutter, of Bradford District Police, said: “We take all reports of arson very seriously and those who are found to be involved in such incidents can expect action to be taken against them.
“People who start fires in abandoned or derelict buildings might not think they are causing any trouble, but not only are they committing a serious crime they are putting themselves and others at risk.”
Deliberate derelict building fires in Bradford district
2013 – 59
2014 – 47
2015 – 36
2016 – 40
2017 – 36 (to July 31st )
Deliberate fires at former Yorkshire Martyrs Catholic College, Tong, Bradford
21/03/2015 – 16 fire engines sent
09/03/2017 – two engines sent
18/04/2017 – five engines sent
02/05/2017 – three fire engines
02/08/2017 – five fire engines
07/08/2017 – two fire engines
23/08/2017 – two fire engines
24/08/2017 – two fire engines
28/08/2017 – four engines
29/08/2017 – two engines
31/08/2017 – two engines
In addition to the above, crews recently attended a derelict building fire at 0218 hrs on 31/08/17 in Priestman Street, Bradford, which required three fire engines and one aerial appliance. There were two seats of fire on the ground floor of the building.