By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Last week fire stories filled our headlines across the nation as several large wildland and structure fires caused millions in damage, injuring both occupants and firefighters and destroyed thousands of acres. We are witnessing what will be one of our worst and longest fire season in history says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.
Though determination of many of these fires are currently under investigation, this week kicks off “National Arson Awareness Week.”  According to the USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) during 2008-2010, an estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States. These fires result in an estimated 280 deaths, 775 injuries, and $593 million in property loss each year.
Common reasons for arson Include but not limited are: Curiosity – Curiosity fires are most often set by juveniles. Vandalism – Vandalism is most common at abandoned or vacant homes. Whether the buildings are abandoned or vacant, more than 70 percent of the fires occurring in them are incendiary or suspicious. Concealing Another Crime – Arson is sometimes used to mask or conceal crime and murder. Excitement – Most excitement fires are nuisance fires but may escalate to homes. Excitement-motivated arsonists desire the thrill associated with setting the fire and relish the attention it brings. They rarely intend to injure people but don’t have the requisite knowledge to keep the fires under control. Revenge – According to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the most common motive (41 percent) for a serial arsonist is revenge. Insurance Fraud / Arson for Profit – Arson for profit is insurance fraud, a criminal method of obtaining money from a fire loss policy.
The public can be engaged in Arson Awareness Week by being vigilant and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.  Keep doors and windows locked of abandoned or unoccupied buildings. Keep combustible material, weeds, brush etc away from buildings.  Report children (anyone) that have been known to play with fire to authorities.  This is not a “passing phase” says Chief DiGiovanna, but a problem that generally gets worse in time.
For more information including a media kit for the 2013 Arson Awareness Week campaign, go to:

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