MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION
Jill Bronaugh
Communication Manager
Office of the State Fire Marshal
800 SW Jackson, Suite 104
Topeka, KS 66612-1216
785-296-3403
jill.bronaugh@ks.gov
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Press Releases

Arson Awareness Week kicks off this week with focus on reducing arson at vacant and abandoned buildings

OSFM | May 07, 2018

May 7, 2018 (TOPEKA) – The Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) joins the United States Fire Administration (USFA) in dedicating the week of May 6-12, 2018, as Arson Awareness Week. The purpose for this week is the recognition, awareness and understanding of the crime of arson - one of our nation’s most dangerous and costly threats to people and property.

The theme for this year’s Arson Awareness Week is, “Reducing Arson at Vacant and Abandoned Buildings.” According to USFA, 34 percent of vacant residential building fires in the United States were cause by intentional actions. In Kansas, from 2000-2017, there were 1,031 arson fires in vacant or abandoned buildings within the state of Kansas resulting in major property loss.

“We would like to use this week of arson awareness to focus on the importance of partnering with fire and emergency services departments, law enforcement, public works, insurance companies and the justice system to prevent the crime of arson at vacant and abandoned buildings in Kansas,” Doug Jorgensen, Kansas Fire Marshal, said. “Fires in vacant buildings are more likely to be intentionally set, therefore, spreading to other buildings and structures, causing extremely dangerous, sometimes deadly, situations for firefighters and citizens.”

Arson is the willful, malicious, intentional and/or reckless burning of property. Unsecured and exposed to the elements, abandoned and vacant structures can be extremely treacherous to firefighters, as they lack structural integrity and may contain other hazards. Urban mining removes pipes and wiring, resulting in additional pathways for the spread of smoke and fire.

The best method to keep firefighters safe is to aggressively identify, evaluate and secure vacant and abandoned buildings. In addition, jurisdictions should adopt a policy which limits interior fire attack to incidents where there is a confirmed life hazard. Insurance fraud and arson for profit are criminal methods of obtaining money from a fire loss policy and are common in vacant and abandoned building fires.

Anyone with information on any arson should call 1-800-KS-CRIME or submit an information report online at http://firemarshal.ks.gov/arson. For more arson prevention tips, visit the OSFM website: FireMarshal.ks.gov.