SPRINGFIELD – In conjunction with Arson Awareness Week 2010, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is focusing attention on the horrific crime of arson and its impact on neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and places of worship.
“The act of arson not only kills people and damages property, it can devastate a community resulting in the decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue, and a decrease in property values,” said Larry Matkaitis, Acting State Fire Marshal.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the United States each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2006, ten firefighters died as a result of arson. In addition to needless injury and death, an estimated $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually.
To combat or prevent arson, communities can develop a local Watch Program, partnering with their local fire department, law enforcement, insurance providers, business leaders, churches, and local community groups. Neighborhoods can reduce the likelihood of arson occurring by promoting neighborhood watches and educating people about recognizing and reporting unusual activities along with implementing improved internal and external security for homes and businesses.
OSFM is partnering with the United States Fire Administration (USFA), International Association of Arson Investigators, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), USAonWatch, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Volunteer Fire Council, and the Insurance Committee for Arson Control.
Help fight arson
The Illinois Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention (IACAP) has been established to encourage and recognize good citizenship and to enlist public cooperation with state and local authorities in the investigation of arson fires and the arrest of arsonists. IACAP provides rewards up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of an arsonist. To report arson, call your local fire or police agency or one of the state’s Arson Hot Lines:
• In Chicago—(773) 533-3473
• Elsewhere in Illinois—(800) 252-2947
For more information about arson and other fire safety information, please visit OSFM’s Web site at www.state.il.us/osfm.