Week Focuses On Protecting Against Arson

In recognition of May 2-8, 2010 being declared National Arson Awareness Week by the U.S. Fire Administration, Interim State Fire Marshal Donald Cooper today reminded citizens that they play an important role in protecting themselves and their property against the crime of arson.

“It’s important for citizens to know they can help us prevent the crime of arson from occurring on their property and in their community,” said Marshal Cooper. “Citizens can reduce the chance that they will be a victim by taking a few simple steps and remaining vigilant.”

Every year in Ohio, deliberately set fires cause millions of dollars worth of damage. The United States Fire Administration estimates an 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. Last year, Ohio fire departments reported 8,531 arson fires which claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 608.

The State Fire Marshal recommends that Ohioans take the following preventive measures to help reduce arson on their property and in the community:

  • Clear refuse, trees and brush away from homes, storage buildings and other structures.
  • Illuminate the property with exterior lights.
  • Disconnect utilities at the street and have meters capped if the structure is to stand empty for any period of time.
  • Remove any combustible items, including furniture and trash, from the around or near the structure.
  • Store all flammable liquids such as paints, gasoline, and mowers in an approved and lockable storage location.
  • Report suspicious activity to the local police and support Neighborhood Watch programs where in place.
  • If you suspect a child is setting fires, notify the proper authorities. It may not be "just a phase" they are going through. And always keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight of young children.

The U.S. Fire Administration also provides information about National Arson Awareness Week and community arson prevention at: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/arson/aaw10_media_kit.pdf

If you know or suspect an arson crime has been committed, contact your local fire department or the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau at 1-800-589-2728.
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