The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has issued advice and warnings to owners of empty buildings that could pose a fire risk, reports.

Thousands of commercial and domestic properties are laying empty around Britain and Ireland, with many thought to have been a direct result of the financial crisis of 2007. Whilst these empty buildings may seem to have a low fire risk, some may be in more danger than many realise, which has prompted the NIFRS to issue warnings to building owners in its jurisdiction.

The calls were made after firefighters were called out to quell a blaze that had taken hold at a former factory in Newtownabbey. Eventually it took some 25 firefighters to put out the fire, which investigators have since claimed was probably attributable to youngsters playing on the disused site, before setting it alight.

Not only was the factory building itself destroyed, but another was badly smoke damaged as a result. Now, firefighters have called on owners of even empty and disused buildings to carry out a fire risk assessment and ensure the boundaries are safely protected so would-be arsonists aren’t given any opportunities.

Commenting, station manager for the Glengormley area, Kenny McEwan told “There is no way to be sure what caused the fire at this stage, but I can’t see any other way that it could have started other than from kids playing in the building.

“There are very real dangers for children or young people who use derelict buildings or disused factories as a playground over the summer months. Apart from the dangers of starting fires, there is also a lot of old equipment of unsafe structures they could be badly hurt on. If a fire does get out of control, there is a danger they could be trapped in the building and unable to get to safety.”