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Arson fires are a loss to more than the owners and inhabitants of an affected structure. These deliberately set fires rob entire communities of its valuable assets — lives and property. Over time, communities can be adversely affected when arson results in a decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue and decreased property values.

Every year in the United States, there are more than 25,000 intentionally set fires in homes that result in an estimated 300 deaths, 700 injuries and $500 million in direct property damage. The average dollar loss for an arson fire in a residential building is $21,320, and the resulting fatality rate is more than twice that of other residential building fires.

Such numbers can be daunting, but there is a lot you can do to help prevent the occurrence of arson and reduce its devastating effect in your community! The Bakersfield Fire Department recommends residents take the following measures to safeguard their homes:

Illuminate exterior areas, entrances: Install lights for all outside walls of the home; motion-activated lighting for entrances; timer lights inside to imply someone is home.

Install fire, burglar alarm systems: Check the cost of contracting with a security firm for service.

Trim, remove obstructing shrubbery: Eliminate anything blocking the view of your house from the street; trim bushes and trees regularly.

Keep doors, windows locked: Use dead bolts for external doors; for windows, spring-loaded bolts inserted through the window frame into the wall frame are best.

Equip home with smoke detectors & fire sprinkler system: This combination reduces the likelihood of death from fire more than 82%; the most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure for both life and property is a fire sprinkler system.

Establish a community arson watch program: Your Bakersfield Fire Department can assist you in the five required steps to establishing and developing a program.

For additional fire safety tips from the Bakersfield FIRE Department, please visit: bakersfieldcity.us/fire.

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