Governor Snyder Proclaims Arson Awareness Week May 7-13, 2017

Citizens urged to report arson/suspicious fires

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

May 5, 2017 – Gov. Rick Snyder today proclaimed May 7-13 as Arson Awareness Week in Michigan to emphasize the costly consequences of arson and encourage citizens to work together to prevent arson in their neighborhoods and communities. Losses directly attributable to arson fires exceeded $18.9 million in Michigan last year.

"Arson affects all of us and we all have a stake in fighting this devastating and deadly crime,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “I urge citizens that if they see something to say something by reporting suspicious activity to local authorities. Communities can set up arson watch programs where citizens partner with their local fire departments and law enforcement officials. Together, we can reduce arson by reporting suspicious activity, setting up better security for our homes and businesses, and keeping a watchful eye on abandoned properties.”

According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System an estimated 1,669 fires were intentionally set in Michigan in 2016, resulting in two deaths, 14 injuries and $18,922,972 in losses. This loss figure does not include indirect costs such as medical care, temporary shelter, business interruption, demolition, fire investigation, prosecution, court proceedings or incarceration.

Sehlmeyer said arson fires can start from youngsters setting nuisance fires to a serial arsonist engaging a full-blown crisis. Motivation behind arson includes vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, or most commonly, retaliation.

"Arson devastates lives, families and communities. We all need to work together to douse the flame of arson," said Patrick E. Riney, Jr., executive director of the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee (MAPC), a group formed to provide arson training, tip rewards and public awareness about the crime of arson.

To help safeguard communities against arson, the Michigan Bureau of Fire Services and the MAPC advises:

  • Keep homes and businesses well lit; set up inexpensive motion-activated lighting near entrances. Put interior lights on timers to give the illusion the home or building is occupied.
  • Install burglar and fire alarms and a sprinkler system.
  • Keep overgrown bushes cut low for a clear view of the property from the road.
  • Keep houses, garage doors and windows, and businesses locked and bolted with dead bolt locks to external doors.
  • Keep occupied and unoccupied property free of trash and debris.

MAPC’s Arson Control Reward Program awards up to $5,000 for the information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of arsonists. Since the reward program started, the MAPC has had 846 requests with 726 awards totaling $832,750. The program had led to 1,245 arrests. Any citizen who has information about an arson or suspicious fire can call toll-free, 1-800-44-ARSON, anonymously.

The Michigan State Police offers fire investigation services to police and fire service agencies throughout Michigan, 24 hours a day. The MSP Fire Investigation Unit has field offices in strategic locations to provide convenient and timely services. Police and fire agencies may call 1-888-684-3473 (1-888-684-FIRE) to reach their area investigator. Since 1980, the MSP has trained more than 2,000 law enforcement officers, public safety officers and firefighters in fire investigation.  For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/msp.

For information about the Bureau of Fire Services go to: www.michigan.gov/bfs 

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