Government agencies want public to be aware of dangers to avoid them
An estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires occur in homes every year, resulting annually in approximately 280 deaths, 775 injuries, and $593 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). During Arson Awareness Week – May 5-11 – it wants to focus public attention on residential arson and provide communities with tools to reduce the incidence of this crime, a news release said.
“Arson is a devastating crime – killing and injuring hundreds of individuals each year,” said United States Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell in the release. “Arson destroys neighborhoods and shatters lives. I encourage all residents to team-up with local fire department and law enforcement officials to put an end to arson in their community.”
The USFA is partnering with the National Fire Protection Association, International Association of Arson Investigators, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the Insurance Committee for Arson Control to publicize its announce 2013 theme: “Reducing Residential Arson.”
The fatality rate for intentionally set residential fires is more than twice that of other residential building fires, the release said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) statistics show that arsons involving single occupancy and other residential structures accounted for nearly a third of arson offenses in 2011. Preliminary FBI data from the first six months of 2012 shows an increase in arson offenses for the first time in six years.
The public can participate be in Arson Awareness Week by implementing neighborhood cleanups along with improving internal and external security for homes and abandoned properties. Suggestions include cleaning around your home; trimming or removing shrubbery that may block the view of your house from the street; removing unused and unneeded paper, trash, cleaning supplies and other materials that could be used as fuel by an arsonist; installing lights that cover all sides of your house; installing a burglar and fire alarm system in your home; and keeping doors and windows locked and bolted, the release said.