"Working Together to Extinguish Serial Arson"
In the United States, on average, 316,300 intentional fires are reported each year causing 375 deaths and 1,300 injuries to firefighters and civilians with an estimated $1 billion in direct property loss. To help raise awareness on serial arsonists and provide community support, the Bakersfield Fire Department announces its 2011 Arson Awareness Week, May 1 through 7, with the theme, “Working Together to Extinguish Serial Arson.”
The Bakersfield Fire Department and its partners will use this week to focus public attention on the value of a collaborative effort with fire, law enforcement, and your neighbors to enact a 5-step approach to battle arson in your neighborhood. Arson robs communities of valuable assets - lives and property. Arson destroys more than buildings: it can devastate a community resulting in the decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue, and a decrease in property values.
The Bakersfield Fire Department responds to approximately 1,500 structure fires and fire-related incidents each year. In 2010, the estimated dollar loss due to fire was $7,489,850. Consequently, 231 suspicious fires were investigated and 25 arrests related to arson were made.
Communities can develop or enhance a Neighborhood Watch Program by partnering with their local fire department, law enforcement, insurance providers, business leaders, churches, and local community groups. Neighborhoods can reduce the likelihood of arson occurring by promoting neighborhood watches and educating people about the recognition of unusual activities along with implementing improved internal and external security for homes and businesses.
Establishing a Community Arson Watch Program
Step 1: Analyze the specific local problem and collect related data. It is essential to include neighborhood involvement for the process to be successful.
Step 2: Build a partnership with the Bakersfield Fire Department, Police Department and your community members.
Step 3: Assess the needs of your neighborhood and determine how fire and law enforcement can assist you. An effective Neighborhood Arson Watch Program will combine the concerns of the fire and police departments with those of the neighborhood.
Step 4: The penultimate step in setting up a Neighborhood Watch Program is choosing a dynamic group of volunteers led by organized and motivated leaders.
Step 5: The fifth and final step is to develop meaningful projects specific to the identified neighborhood problem. Leaders must remain passionate and continue to set measurable goals as projects are accomplished.
For more information regarding Arson Prevention, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration web site at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/arson_awareness.shtm . For additional fire safety tips from the Bakersfield FIRE Department, please visit www.bakersfieldcity.us/fire.