National Arson Awareness Week 2010 is May 2-8,with this year's theme being "Community Arson Prevention." This year's goal is to focus attention on the devastating crime of arson and provide communities with tools and strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods, businesses, schools and places of worship.
"Arson is destructive to property and too often deadly to the victims and the firefighters who combat the fires. But arson also threatens neighbors, and the health and vitality of our neighborhoods and communities," said Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole. "Missourians can reduce the likelihood of arson by promoting neighborhood watches and educating residents about recognizing and reporting unusual activity."
According to United States Fire Administration data and the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the U.S. 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.
The U.S. Fire Administration urges communities to develop watch programs, to partner with their local fire departments, law enforcement, insurance providers, business leaders, churches and community groups.
The USFA also recommends that homeowners and businesses take steps to strengthen internal and external security.
According to the USFA, arson can result in the decline of neighborhoods through increased insurance premiums, the loss of business revenue and a decrease in property values. A community arson watch program can create a sense of cooperation by bringing the fire service, law enforcement and residents together to reduce the crime of arson.
Cole said, "It is important that those who commit arson are held accountable for their actions. In Missouri, we are fortunate to have the statewide Arson Hotline (1-800-39ARSON). I urge the public to contact the Missouri Arson Hotline if anyone witnesses or has information that may lead to the arrest of the people responsible for deliberately set fires. Rewards of up to $5,000 are available for such information and callers may remain anonymous."