Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Paul Devlin has hit out at an increase in the number of anti-social fire related incidents.
Mr Devlin, who is based at Motherwell Community Fire Station, has urged residents to help the SFRS protect their local communities following the spate of outdoor fires.
He said: “We have seen a growing number of grass and rubbish fires which have resulted in the local emergency fire cover being assigned to needless grass and rubbish fires.
“These fires are destroying areas of open ground, damaging the environment as well as causing local residents to feel unsafe in their own homes due to smoke spread.
“This then leaves the local communities without fire service cover in the event of a real life safety emergency.
“Resources need to be mobilised from further afield which in simple terms means a delay in getting front line services to those at risk.
“Setting fire to refuse or grassland puts lives at risk. The people responsible for this need to know their actions are reckless, criminal and could end in tragedy.
“Even if the flames don’t spread to homes or businesses the crews and resources needed to bring it safely under control will be tied-up, so a small rubbish or grass fire would delay firefighters and equipment getting to an emergency.
To tackle the anti-social behaviour, agencies including North Lanarkshire Council, Police Scotland, Town Centre Activities (CCTV) and SFRS are working together to bring those responsible to account.
Mr Devlin said: “We need people to understand setting fires is a crime that really does endanger our communities and it’s not something any of us should ever accept.
“Anyone with information on those involved in starting fires should contact the police and I would also appeal for parents to discuss this issue with their kids.
“Parents can help protect them from suffering horrific injuries or having to live with the knowledge their actions inflicted that, or worse, on someone else.”
Within North Lanarkshire the Scottish Fire and rescue Service has six specially trained officers who work with young people referred by parents, schools, police or youth services.
The Fire Setter Advisors provide sessions designed to change fire related behaviour and safeguard young people from the risks posed by fire.
Many grass fires are started deliberately or are due to careless, reckless or irresponsible behaviour.
If you see someone acting suspiciously, recklessly or irresponsibly and potentially fire setting contact Police Scotland on 101 or pass information anonymously to Scotland Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
SFRS also provides support and advice to residents and the business community; further information is available in relation to fire safety on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website