Firefighters fit devices to prevent arson in St Albans

SPECIAL fireproof bags have been fitted to letter boxes at properties in St Albans at risk of arson.

The bags contain any flammable liquids poured through letter boxes and have a heat-sensitive fire extinguisher within them which automatically puts out any fire within 15 seconds.

Another benefit is that the bags conceal any stored mail from view, so a pile of letters does not indicate that the occupiers are away.

Herts Fire and Rescue firefighters have fitted 27 of the bags in the district with funding from the Dacorum and St Albans Community Safety Partnerships following referrals from the police, who only put forward serious and genuine cases determined by assessments.

Fire safety co-ordinator Jack Daw said: “The funding for these letter bags was secured following a successful bid to the local community safety partnerships.

“We spoke to some occupants two months after fitting the bags and they all said they felt much safer and more relaxed in their homes.

“This project is a great example of working in partnership with the police and local councils to benefit residents in the area.”

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Executive member for community safety and culture, Keith Emsall, said: “Arson is extremely dangerous. It puts lives and property at risk and costs the county around �17 million a year. It is a criminal offence and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.”

He added: “While our crews are dealing with arson incidents they are diverted away from other emergencies and community safety work.

“Our message is simple – we will not tolerate arson in Hertfordshire and we will continue to work with our partners to stamp it out.”