REDUCING the number of arson attacks and engaging with the public more effectively are South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority’s (SWFRA) top priorities, its Chief Fire Officer has said.

As SWFRA publishes Stage One of its Strategic Improvement Plan for 2014-15, Huw Jakeway said it must seek to reduce the number of fires that are deliberately set alight and also meet more frequently with people.

CFO Jakeway said dealing with such fires make up about 70 per cent of the calls the service attends to and that they are “incidents that we should not be attending.

“The public have an expectation that public service providers continue to improve the way services are delivered and ensure public money is well spent. We are committed to ensuring that we provide the best possible service to our communities in South Wales making them safer by reducing risk.”

And he said he would work with communities around South Wales to improve the way they are informed about what the service does.

The Improvement Plan lists what the service has done well between April and December last year and what possible improvements can be delivered in the future.

The service said over the last 13 years it has reduced fires attended by more than 70 per cent and has reduced the number of fire deaths and injuries by more than half.

And it said that safety has been improved by the Welsh Government passing legislation that orders the installation of sprinklers in new build homes from January 2016 and for new build nursing homes and houses of multiple occupation from April 2014.

Chairman of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Tudor Davies, said: “We are delighted that our performance is still exceptionally high and we aim to build on these high standards to ensure that we make our communities safer.”

The service was told by the Wales Audit Office in their Annual Improvement Report last March that their business planning arrangements were “well embedded, comprehensive and outcome focused.”