Media Release: Arson Awareness Week: Preventing Arson at Construction Sites


May 6, 2019
National Arson Awareness Week: Preventing Arson at Construction Sites
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office is using National Arson Awareness Week to highlight the dangers of arson in communities across the state.
Intentional actions are the leading cause of residential and nonresidential fires in vacant buildings and is an ongoing problem here in West Virginia. Arson fires expose our West Virginia firefighters to numerous risks and dangers. Vacant building arsons can also be a danger to nearby occupied homes and buildings.
During the 2018 Fiscal Year, the Investigation Division handled 153 incidents classified as incendiary, or arson. As a result, 75 individuals were arrested for arson and related charges. This is a 50% arrest rate for West Virginia State Fire Marshal investigators.
Each year for Arson Awareness Week (AAW), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) gathers and shares information to raise awareness of arson or youth firesetting and provide to individuals with strategies to combat these problems in their community. Reducing arson at construction sites is the focus of this year’s National Arson Awareness Week, May 5 - 11.
The US Fire Administration (USFA) recommends the following tips to keep vacant homes from being the target of arson.
First responders/Inspectors:
• If there has been negative press about the project, remind workers to be vigilant on the job site.
• Make unannounced inspections to assess the project, activities and the job site.
• Perform site planning and preplanning throughout the building process.
• Invite surrounding fire departments/companies to assist in the pre-fire plan.
• Take photos of anything you believe is a potential hazard and inform the job site manager.
• Store solvents, fuels and tools in a locked storage container or remove them from the job site when you are not using them.
• Request additional patrols or drive-bys from your local law enforcement.
• Remove trash and debris from the job site.
• Try not to store excess materials on the job site.
• Secure doors and windows on structures when crews are not actively working on the property.

Community members:
• Awareness is essential. Become familiar with activities in your neighborhood and report odd or suspicious activities to your local law enforcement.
If you have information on any suspicious fire at any time, you are asked to contact the WV State Fire Marshal Hotline at 1-800-233-FIRE (3473). Up to a $5,000 reward is offered for information that leads to a conviction.
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