FIGURES have revealed the overall number of house fires dropped in Barnsley last year - although injuries caused as a result increased five-fold.

There were 385 house fires across the borough in 2018/19, down from 419 in 2017/18, although injuries rocketed from just three to 15 during the same period.

According to data released this week, fire bosses said they had noticed a big spike in small deliberate fires, like grass and rubbish fires, following one of the hottest summers in years.

A meeting held at Barnsley Town Hall on Monday was told it prompted the service to ramp up its community work ahead of the summer months, including the delivery of a new joint antisocial behaviour schools education package alongside South Yorkshire Police.

There was also a slight increase in fire-related deaths, including 87-year-old Sylvia Talbot, of Coniston Road, Oakwell, leading to the launch a new campaign - Find The Time - which calls on those with older relatives or neighbours to take some simple steps to keep their loved ones safe.

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Area manager Steve Helps said: “We’re pleased that our work to make people safer has contributed to a big drop in house fires. Much of it is down to the targeted approach of our firefighters and community safety teams in prioritising their work at those most at risk of fire.

“But we know there’s more to do, which is why we continue to call on partners to help us to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, by becoming one of our referral partners.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has also teamed up with partners across Barnsley, including the council and police, to deliver ‘safe and well’ visits to elderly people to give them advice on how to stay safe.

A pilot scheme was launched last year across the North East ward, which covers Brierley, Grimethorpe and Shafton, after the nearby Cudworth station received a qualification in health achievement from the Royal Society of Public Health.

Steve added: “Our established programme of home safety visits has contributed to a big drop in fires across South Yorkshire over the last decade.

“We believe we can use the contact we have with some of the most vulnerable people in society to achieve far more than simply reducing fires.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the health services, and those who are at risk of fire.

“Strengthening our knowledge and referral mechanisms through collaborative working such as this must surely benefit our public safety objectives, as well as those of partner agencies.”