What are Common Motives for Arsonists?
What is the Real Cost of Arson?
What Can You Do About Arson in Your Community?
1. Arson Fact Sheet
In recent years, the incidence of arson has reached virtual epidemic proportions in the United States. The precise dimension of the problem is elusive because statistics are based as much on informed estimates as provable facts. However, the National Fire Protection Association, generally considered the best source of fire statistics in the United States estimates that:
- 75,000 structure fires were deliberately set or suspected of having been deliberately set, an increase of 4.2 percent from a year ago, and 14.8 percent of all structure fires.
- Incendiary or suspicious structure fires also resulted in $1.340 billion in property damage. This is a 15.7 percent representation of all structure property loss.
- Incendiary or suspicious structure fires killed 505 civilians (non-firefighters), an increase of 36.5 percent from 1999.
- There were 46,500 incendiary or suspicious vehicle fires, a 3.3 percent increase from a year ago.
Source: Fire Loss in the United States During 2000, NFPA, 09/01
2. What are Common Motives for Arsonists?
Crime concealment: To conceal another crime such as murder, burglary, or vehicle.
Revenge or spite: To get back at someone for a perceived injustice.
Monetary Gain: Arson-for-Profit fires are set to burn a building, vehicle, or some other object in order to gain profit from the fire. The profit may come in several forms; from insurance coverage on the property, or from putting a competitor out of business.
Malicious Vandalism: Fire set to someone’s property, just to destroy it. Malicious vandalism fires account for the largest percentage of arson fires. These fires are frequently set by juveniles.
Mentally Disturbed: Some persons have been found to have an irresistible impulse to set fires.
3. What is the Real Cost of Arson?
Human Cost: All arson fires are crimes against people, even if the intended target is a vacant building, trash or woods. These fires must be controlled and extinguished by firefighters, and therefore, human life is endangered whenever a fire is set. Certainly, a major blaze in an occupied apartment building is much more severe than a small fire set in a field. However, every year firefighters are killed or injured in responding to or combating small, open air fires.
Direct Costs: The value of the property destroyed by the fire; the cost of firefighting supplies and staff to control and extinguish the fire; the cost of insurance coverage on the property.
Indirect Costs: The loss of tax revenue, since the property may be taken off the tax rolls; the welfare or unemployment costs of the workers put out of work, even if the building is rebuilt; the medical expenses of civilians and firefighters injured by the fire; the disability retirement costs of injured civilians and firefighters; increased insurance costs.
4. What Can You Do About Arson in Your Community?
If we are to effectively address the arson problem in our communities, every citizen must participate in combating this vicious crime. This means understanding the impact arson has on the community and cooperating to prevent arson, and reporting suspicious persons and activities that may result in arson.
Consult with your local fire or police officials to determine the extent to which arson is a problem in your community or neighborhood. If a particular part of your community is plagued by arson, you should get involved before the problem spreads or becomes worse. Generate interest among your neighbors and friends. Start or participate in a community watch program. Report all suspicious activity to the local police department or fire department. Everyone needs to be involved in Arson Prevention.
Information is quoted from the State of Illinois Fire Marshall's Website
Smoke Alarm Tips
Keep your smoke alarms working properly
- Test your smoke alarms at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year or as soon as the alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low. HINT: schedule battery replacements for the same day you change your clock from daylight to standard time in the fall.
- Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can't warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected.
- Do not disable smoke alarms even temporarily - you may forget to replace the battery. If your smoke alarm is sounding "nuisance alarms," it may need dusting or vacuuming. If that does not work, try relocating it further away from kitchens and bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound.
- Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarms following the manufacturers instructions can help keep it working properly.
- Smoke alarms do not last forever. Replace your smoke alarms once every 10 years.
- Plan regular fire drills (four times a year)to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke alarms sounds. Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at the sound of alarm.
- If you are building a new home or remodeling your existing home, consider installing an automatic home fire sprinkler system. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire 82 percent relative to having neither - a savings of thousands of lives a year.
Fire Safety Tips
- Install and Maintain Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors warn you of fire in time to let you escape. Install them on each level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. Follow the manufacturer's directions, and test once a week. Replace batteries twice a year, or when the detector chirps to signal that the battery is dead. Don't ever take the battery out for other uses!
- Plan and Practice Your escape
If fire breaks out in your home, you must get out fast. With your family, plan two ways out of every room. Fire escape routes must not include elevators, which might take you right to the fire! Choose a meeting place outside where everyone should gather. Once you are out, stay out! Have the whole family practice the escape plan at least twice a year.
- Space Heaters Need space
Keep portable space heaters at least 3 feet (1 meter) from paper, curtains, furniture, clothing, bedding, or anything else that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed, and keep children and pets well away from them.
- Be Careful Cooking
Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles, and don't leave cooking unattended. Keep your pot's handles turned inward so children won't knock or pull them over the edge of the stove. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, then turn off the burner.
- A Match is a Tool for Adults
In the hands of a child, matches or lighters are extremely dangerous. Store them up high where kids can't reach them, preferably in a locked cabinet. And teach your children from the start that matches and lighters and lighters are tools for adults, not toys for kids. If children find matches, they should tell an adult immediately.
- Use Electricity Safely
If an appliance smokes or begins to smell unusual, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Check all your electrical cords, and replace any that are cracked or frayed. If you use extension cords, replace any that are cracked or frayed; and don't overload them or run them under rugs. Remember that fuses and circuit breakers protect you from fire: don't tamper with the fuse box or use fuses of an improper size.
- Cool a Burn
If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes to ease the pain. Do not use butter on a burn, as this could prolong the heat and further damage the skin. If burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately.
- STOP, DROP, AND ROLL
Everyone should know this rule: if your clothes catch fire, don't run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll over and over to smother the flames. Cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs.
- Crawl Low Under Smoke
If you encounter smoke using your primary exit, use your alternate route instead. If you must exit through smoke, clean air will be several inches off the floor. Get down on your hands and knees, and crawl to the nearest safe exit.
- Practice Candle Safety
The popularity of candles as home decorations in recent years, has resulted in an increase of candle related fires. Some safe tips include: Never leave a lit candle unattended in any room of the house; Never leave candles burning when you go to bed; and never use candles near combustible materials such as curtains, drapes, bedding and cabinets.