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  • What's your take on FF and arson

    Why are more and more FF setting fires? Are we getting bored of not seeing "that" fire? I guess what I'm trying get at is why is this happening?

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    Joel

    If you sent us to HELL, WE'D PUT IT OUT!!

    **And of course these are only my opinion and only mine. Don't take it out on anyone else but me.**

  • #2
    I doubt more and more firefighters are setting fires, especially in a time when levels of violence overall are declining.

    However, within the fire community we are more aware of what used to be fairly local matters since the Internet spreads word of it so much faster.

    While an issue not to be ignored, I don't perceive FF arson is out of control.

    Probably the most fustrating part is the time it can take to build a case against an arsonist, especially when the targets are things like woods, dumpsters, or even buildings -- but with no connection to the arsonist themselves. Many years ago we had a FF-arsonist in the general area, who had made anonymous threats against my department -- and indeed burned a fire station in another town, and it was very fustrating waiting nearly a year and a half from the threats being made to when the Police & Fire Marshals finally had enough evidence to get an arrest warrant. But such cases before the last 4 or 5 years pretty much stayed known to only their local community.

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    • #3
      I agree with Dalmation90 the actual numbers probably are not growing. The ease of spreading the news just makes it seem that the numbers are increasing. I will say however, that the effect it has on a department can be devastating. I have been fortunate not to have it occur in my department, but I have had close ties with departments where it has happened. It can destroy the morale of a good department and cause good firefighters to lose confidence in each other and we all know how dangerous that can be.

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      • #4
        OK, Here we go again. Pay attention.

        FF Arson is a problem that can potentially affect every single volunteer fire department in America. I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgable on the subject. IN the past 15 years, my agency has arrested 35 vol. FF for arson and related crimes. The most recent was two unrelated incidents a month ago.

        It is 100% possible to target and pinpoint the individuals who are prone to FF arson. Mandatory psychological screening would weed them out. Look up an article by Tim Huff, formerly of the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime that was published several years ago in the IAFC newsletter. The IAFC has done alot of work in this area. Suffolk County NY and the State of Delaware had FF arson prevention written into their training programs at one time.

        How do you know if you have a potential problem? Look for the guy who has no life outside the FD. I'm not talking about dedicated FF, I'm talking about the obsessive loner type, who has no friends, no life no anything outside the four walls of the fire house. He craves the comaraderie and excitement that the bell brings.

        The second way is that you have an escalating problem with false calls. Telephone false alarms, bomb threats, etc. These then turn into nuisance fires. Then they turn into cars and vacant buildings. You'd be surprised how many of these guys set fire to occuppied buildings for the thrill of the rescue and the comraderie after the grab.

        The third way is to pay attention. Guys may joke about it. They may ask alot of questions about a particular building and then a day later you get a fire. They may be seen spending time before a fire in the area of the building that now burns. Most FD's are not shocked when we lock someone up. They knew, or at least had a suspicion.

        One problem I have encountered is that alot of FF do not mind the extra work and the attention that comes from being busy. They do not really want it to stop. That's why they don't report it.

        If you want to stop prolonged investigations and prosecution times, call the investigators when the nuisance crap hits. Let them make an analysis to see if anyone may be a potential suspect. Yu have no idea how many times we would go back and look at the records after locking a FF up for a major job and see a pattern where he would have been ID'd if only the FD had called when the little stuff was happening.

        If you think that this couldn't happen in your fire house, you have your head in the sand.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have to agree with George on this one although I don't think F.F. Arson is soley a Volunteer Problem --- This Problem exists among Career Departments as well although not as wide spread. Firefighters who are arsonists were into lighting fires long before they joined the F.D. These People usually come from "Broken Homes" poor educational back-grounds and over-all mental instability. Correct me George if I'm Wrong but I have herd that Arson is also an expression of one's sexual frustration ? Or the one setting the fires gets a sexual rush out of setting the fire by basicly being the cause of so much excitement with in a short amount of time...I could be wrong on this though... Then some of the smarter ones fiqure "Join the Fire Company -- I'll set it Respond like a bat out of hell with my Blue-Light-a-flashin' ride the red truck to the blaze and help extingush it...I Might even be a hero here because after all I know the Building Lay-Out i just set on fire so making that all important rescue will make me the hero and I'll have more friends as a result" The Thoughts go on and on ...I Think we all need to screen much more than we do as to who joins our companies through out this country...Altough some of these arson histories never come out until the Fire Marshal shows up at the station to take the arson suspect into custody. Makes you wonder what kind of person wears the gear hanging next to yours --- Fortunitley with my company we're all like a large family and spend time with one another in and out of the firehouse...And we all help each other out with company and personal matters...Not saying it doesn't make one or more of us potential arsonists but we tend to know each other better than some know their own family.

          ------------------
          STRATFORD FIRE CO. # 1 NEW JERSEY STATE FIREMEN'S CONVENTION
          OVER-ALL CHAMPIONS 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000 !!

          ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

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          • #6
            For the most part, the sexual perversion aspect of arson is more folklore than anything else. I have never encountered such a person, nor have I ever spoken to an investigator in a professional setting who has.

            BTW, the 35 fire fighter arrests that we have are all volunteer. To be fair, we have a very low number of paid fire fighters in my jurisdiction. I am certain that arsonists have been hired as career fire fighters. I think that you would find the motivation to be vastly different.

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            • #7
              George,

              The reason I asked about the Sexual Perversion as a reason for arson is that about Two Years Ago I read a Book called "To Sleep with the Angels" the story of the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire from 1954 In Chicago...To make a Long Story Short about 14 Chapters or so into the book the Investigation began to center around a student from the school and while they were interviewing him he spotted a magazine on the table with a picture of a fire in it and immediately began to "pleasure" him-self...A mention from one of the lead investigators in the book was that this kind of behavior is associated with arsonists...I wasn't sure how true this was as a reason for arson...My personal feeling is that we'll all never figure out what drives one to burn and destroy ones property...or worse ..Killing someone in the process. As far as I'm Concerned Arsonists should be treated like murderers...After all if they kill a person or an animal they are killing a dream that someone else worked hard to get !

              ------------------
              STRATFORD FIRE CO. # 1 NEW JERSEY STATE FIREMEN'S CONVENTION
              OVER-ALL CHAMPIONS 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000 !!

              ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

              Comment

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