National Arson Awareness Week is May 5-11, 2013, and this year’s theme is Reduce Residential Arson. The focus is on public attention of residential arson and reducing the incidence of this crime.
The U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System estimates 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.
• Five percent of all residential building fires were intentionally set.
• Lighters and heat from other open flame or smoking materials and matches were the leading heat sources of intentionally set fires in residential buildings• About 76 percent of intentionally-set fires in residential buildings occurred in one or two family dwellings. An additional 19 percent of fires occurred in multifamily dwellings.
• Forty-one percent of the intentionally set residential fires occurred in vacant buildings.• Rubbish and waste; magazines, newspapers and writing paper; and uncontained flammable liquids or gas were the items most often first ignited in intentionally-set fires in residential buildings.
Eastside Fire & Rescue’s Fire Prevention Bureau offers the following tips to help reduce arson:
• Report suspicious activity near houses or other buildings to local police and support neighborhood watch programs.• Store matches and lighters out of the reach and sight of children, preferably up high in a locked cabinet.
• Keep doors and windows locked when a building is unoccupied.• Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush, shrubbery and other combustibles away from buildings. Most arson fires are started outdoors. Do not make it easy for an arsonist to start a fire or easy for an outdoor fire to spread to a building.
The U.S. Fire Administration offers more information on what you can do to reduce residential arson fires.