SEATTLE, Wash. -- Next week (3-9 May 2009) is National Arson Awareness Week, and the U.S. Fire Administration has partnered up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms; the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the International Association of Arson Investigators to educate the public on arson hazards. This year’s theme will focus on Arson for Profit, and according to FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger, arson for profit is more than insurance fraud—it can turn deadly.
"Arson fires easily spread to adjacent properties, and can injure and kill innocent neighbors and bystanders," said Hunsinger. "According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, arson for profit accounts for 28 percent of civilian fire deaths nation-wide."
National Fire Protection Association figures (2005) estimate that the 323,900 intentional fires in their databanks resulted in 490 civilian fire deaths, 3 firefighter on duty deaths, 1,500 civilian fire injuries, 7,600 firefighter on duty injuries and caused over $1.1 billion in direct property damage. The insurance Information Institute reports that arsonists destroyed nearly $900 million in insured property, and killed 295 civilians in 2007.
"Arson for profit affects everyone, through loss of life, increased insurance premiums, and related expenses for fire and law enforcement professionals," continued Hunsinger. "We can all help reduce and prevent these serious crimes by reporting suspicious activity, and by supporting local Neighborhood Watch programs and local fire department initiatives."
Arson Awareness Week information is available from the USFA (www.usfa.fema.gov), the Coaltion Against Insurance Fraud (www.insurancefraud.org) InterFIRE (www.interfire.org) and Firehouse Magazine (www.firehouse.com). For more information contact USFA at 1-888-603-3100.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and man-made disasters