Hot Topic! National Arson Awareness week is May 1-7, 2011 and focuses on crimes of arson and providing communities with tools and strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods, businesses and schools. Arson isn’t something that we are approached with everyday, but it’s important to know what it is and how we can prevent it.
This year’s message is targeted towards serial arson-related fires. Serial arson is defined as an offense committed by fire setters who set three or more fires with a significant cooling off period between the fires, according to the United States Fire Association (USFA). The theme for their 2011 campaign is: Working Together to Extinguish Serial Arson. Pretty Clever…but seriously when arson does happen, it can be devastating.
Many communities across the country experience rashes of serial arson-related fires. According to the USFA, these types of fires plague many rural and urban communities and cause significant loss of life and millions of dollars in property damage. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states that there were 88 reported serial arson incidents in 2009-2010 causing $4.8 million in losses. Those are just a part of the 316,000 intentional fires U.S. fire departments respond to every year, causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2007, three firefighters died and 6,100 were injured while responding to intentionally set fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
It’s important for communities to come together to fight arson. Here are the first steps:
- Join or start a Neighborhood Watch Program. If concerned neighbors monitor and report suspicious activity, the likelihood of arson can be reduced. Tools to help can be found at www.USAonwatch.org.
- Hold a neighborhood clean-up day. Clearing flammable objects like leaves or trash away from buildings makes it harder for someone to start an intentional fire.
- Be on the lookout. Be aware of other forms of vandalism targeted towards your home, business or surrounding area. These are usually a sign of worse things to come. Report any vandalism to local authorities.
- Identify any potential problem areas in the community. Are there any vacant homes or vehicles that have been sitting too long? Are there any piles of trash or yard waste that could be potential arson targets
Although you don’t hear a lot about arson, don’t forget about it or the preventions to make your community safer. Why would anyone want to intentionally start a fire? No idea. It’s a devastating and crazy thing that does happen. Take the above steps to make your community a safer place.
Stay safe through all seasons. Your safety is number one to us. For peace of mind in your home, contact a Foremost agency to talk about a home insurance policy.