FIRE chiefs are stepping up the fight against arsonists by introducing a free confidential hotline.

They want people who have witnessed, or who have information about serious of suspicious fires, to reveal what they know.

The Freephone fire investigation hotline will run along the same lines as police calls for help into road traffic accidents or other incidents.

Where there has been a serious fire, posters will be displayed in the vicinity showing the Crimestopper Arson Hotline - 0800 555 111.

Just like the police Crimestopper line, which has been running for several years and asks people to ring in with information have on crimes that have taken place, it is believed the confidentiality of the project will encourage callers who might otherwise fear reprisals from culprits.

Fire bosses have stressed that the hotline will be confidential, just like the similar police hotline.

Fire Brigade spokesman John Taylor confirmed "We will be getting this scheme underway as soon as possible."

He added "We will not be using this for every fire, but posters will be put up where their is evidence of arson."

An additional benefit could be the scheme's effect as a deterrent to potential firebugs.

Fire bosses say they acknowledge the work of the police in fire investigation and that the proposed scheme is intended to supplement police resources for information and not replace them.

The hotline, was given the go ahead by Lancashire's combined fire authority at a meeting on Monday (Sept 13).

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