Arson is the second leading cause of fire-deaths yearly in the U.S.
Springfield, Ill- The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is highlighting the dangers posed by arson during Arson Awareness Week May 3-9, 2020, to help reduce the frequency and suffering caused by this crime. This week is set aside each year to raise awareness about the seriousness of this crime and to help educate adults and kids about the true cost of Arson.
According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 210,300 fires are intentionally set each year. Losses resulting from these fires included approximately 375 civilian deaths, 1,300 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage. The incidence of these fires typically peaks in March and April and again in July. On average, OSFM Arson Special Agents and canine teams respond to over a thousand investigations yearly. In 2019, the OSFM’s Arson Division closed 49 arson related cases with an arrest.
“Arson is a serious problem and crime that not only causes damage to property and costs people their lives daily, but also needlessly puts firefighters in danger. To effectively address the arson problem in our communities, every citizen must participate in combating this crime. This means understanding the impact arson has on the community, cooperating to prevent arson, and reporting suspicious persons and activities that may result in arson,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
Arson fires are preventable through education and awareness such as the Youth Firesetter Intervention Program. To request help from this program you can call 1-844-689-7882 or visit the OSFM website.
These actions listed below can help reduce the risk of arson:
• Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush and shrubbery and other combustibles away from buildings.
• Keep doors and windows locked when a building is unoccupied. Board up abandoned buildings. Do not use double cylinder deadbolt locks without keeping a key nearby, bars without quick release mechanisms, or other security provisions that could trap a person in a building with a deadly fire.
• Store all flammable liquids such as; paints, gasoline, and mowers in an approved storage location: locked cabinets, locked storage units, and locked garages (prevent access to kids). Also, keep away from heat sources such as furnaces and any type of heaters.
• Report suspicious activity near houses or other buildings to the local police and support Neighborhood Watch programs.
• If you suspect a child is setting fires, notify the proper authorities. Keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight of young children.
• If you know or suspect that an arson crime has been committed, contact your local fire or police department.
A statewide Arson Hotline, (800) 252-2947, has been established so that citizens may anonymously provide information about a suspicious fire that has occurred or may occur. For more information about arson prevention and the OSFM Arson Division, visit www.sfm.illinois.gov