Arson Awareness Week Focuses on Arson For Profit

This week is Arson Awareness Week, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has teamed up with the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and its partners to bring public attention to the alarming statistics about Arson for Profit. The NVFC encourages departments to educate their communities about the dangers of Arson for Profit and help expand the support and resources to reduce this crime. Download the 2009 Arson Awareness Week media kit at www.usfa.dhs.gov/aaw/.

“Arson affects everyone, causing loss of life and property, increased insurance premiums, and putting firefighters and other first responders in danger,” said NVFC Executive Director Heather Schafer. “Arson Awareness Week draws attention to this dangerous crime and reminds the public what a serious matter this is. Education and cooperation are key – we must all work together to prevent acts of arson and to stop the offenders.”

Arson for Profit, or economic arson, is insurance fraud, a criminal way of obtaining money from a fire loss policy. Perpetrators set fires to reduce financial loss, recoup initial investments, or dispose of depreciated assets, usually for a payout from insurance companies.

The losses for arson are staggering. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2005 there were an estimated 323,900 intentional fires reported to U.S. fire departments. These resulted in 490 civilian fire deaths, 3 firefighter on-duty deaths, 1,500 civilian fire injuries, 7,600 firefighter on-duty injuries, and $1.102 billion in direct property damage.

“Arson is a costly crime that’s being fanned by the flames of recession. Firefighters and innocent families are endangered when desperate people illegally torch their homes, businesses, and cars for insurance bailouts,” said Dennis Jay, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. “Arson also is raising insurance premiums at a time of great stress on honest people’s pocketbooks. All Americans are victims of arson, and we all must work to ensure fewer arson matches are ever lit.”

Find more information and download the 2009 Arson Awareness Week media kit at www.usfa.dhs.gov/aaw/.

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