Nuisance fires in the student quarter hit a five-year high
last year, with Castle St the area's top hot spot.
To dampen fire threats, the Fire Service, police, University
of Otago and Dunedin City Council have taken a zero tolerance
approach to such fires in the city.
Fire Service East Otago area manager Laurence Voight said
that approach, coupled with fire prevention activities during
Orientation Week appeared to have ''reduced the unwanted
During the start of the academic year, 27 fewer incidents
were recorded compared with the corresponding period the
Figures released under the Official Information Act show the
Fire Service recorded 586 nuisance fires in the North Dunedin
student area between February 20, 2009, and February 20,
2014. Of those, 179 were recorded last year - compared with
77 in 2009.
Fires in Castle St accounted for 128 recorded incidents in
2009-14, more than double the next highest, Hyde St (60) and
Forth St (57).
The majority of fires were recorded as ''outside rubbish
fire'', followed by rubbish bin/skip fires (49).
Mr Voight said these types of fires could cause injury to
those who lit them, posed a risk to members of the public,
caused property damage and tied up valuable emergency
services resources, ''hence the multi-agency approach''.
''All agencies are now making it clear that students and
others who are involved in deliberately lighting fires will
be prosecuted,'' he said.
''If convicted, they will carry a criminal record with them
for life and this will affect their work, travel and job
Over the period, July was the biggest month for fires, with
94 recorded, followed by November (74) and March (72).
Mr Voight said staff promoted fire safety during Orientation
Week, ''warned of the consequences of deliberately lighting
fires and visited students and others living in the most
Last year, the University of Otago proctor dealt with 43
students who wilfully set fires, with a further eight
students referred for fuelling fires.