ARSON AWARENESS WEEK
Let’s talk terminologies: Did you know, the U.S. Fire Administration thru the National Arson Prevention Initiative has published recognized “Board-up Procedures” for [fire] damaged and other unoccupied buildings? These procedures are to “help stop” the use of empty, vacant buildings for “arsonists” and other malicious and mischievous individuals.
These buildings are tempting for use as crack houses, targets for gangs, garbage dumps, and as temporary shelters for homeless persons.
Common used terms:
• Fire: Rapid self-sustaining oxidation process usually accompanied by the evolution of heat and light in varying intensities.
• Forensic: the application of science to answer questions of interest to the legal system.
• The Scientific Method: the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of a hypothesis.
• Incendiary Fire: A classification of the cause of a fire in which the person igniting the fire knows the fire should not be ignited.
• The [only] four classifications of fires: Accidental; Natural; Incendiary, Undetermined.
• Our business is ORIGIN & CAUSE investigation; no origin no cause; no cause, no case.
• The origin must be determined before the cause can be examined, ALWAYS.
Arson as identified in the definition section of N.F.P.A. 921 [2011 edition] the crime of willfully, maliciously and intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion to destroy one’s property or that of another’s. Precise legal definitions vary among jurisdictions, wherein it is defined by statutes and judicial decisions [IFSTA]. Officially classified [NFPA 921] as Incendiary.
Arson identification and its potential is a method of awareness. “If you see something, say something”. Report unusual activity to the authority having jurisdiction to investigate and remediate the potential situation and circumstances.
Since before the Common Era (AD) intentionally set fires were used as tools to fight and fend off enemies and to destroy any competition.
Motives were numerous, means are and were common and in some instances complex. Opportunities can be premeditated or a reaction to the moment of chance. Factors involved can be, but not limited to, influence of drugs, alcohol, domestic and financial issues, maliciousness, and thrill seekers, to name just a few.
Ed Knight is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI/CFII) and a fire instructor; a retired municipal assistant fire marshal, forensic investigator having investigated several thousand fires and testified over 60 times throughout the United States and several foreign countries. He is Chairman of the Live Burn Facility, Pequea Lane, Lancaster, PA.