With Economic Pressure and Civil Unrest, Arson Cases Rose Last Year

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With Economic Pressure and Civil Unrest, Arson Cases Rose Last Year

International Association of Arson Investigators educates the public during National Arson Awareness Week, May 2-8

BOWIE, Md., April 28, 2021—During National Arson Awareness Week, May 2-8, the International Association of Arson Investigators is working to educate the public on the dangers of arson and the increased numbers of cases. IAAI is the leading global professional organization supporting fire prevention by delivering training, education, certification, networking, advocacy, resources and expertise to suppress the crime of arson through professional fire investigation.

On May 3, from 8-11 a.m., the U.S. Fire Administration and the IAAI are partnering to present a panel webinar discussion, "Arson During Civil Unrest—An Unjustifiable Crime." The webinar is open to the public at no charge and will feature two of IAAI's experts; ATF Certified Fire Investigator R. Seth Graybill of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Bruce Bouch of the U.S. Fire Administration.

The webinar features four presentations that include discussion on historic civil unrest responses, mutual aid agreements, risk management, civil unrest response strategies, federal arson statutes and sentencing, and dealing with multiple scenes.

In addition, during National Arson Awareness Week, IAAI will debut a new podcast on Arson During Civil Unrest. The podcast will feature an interview of a fire investigator with expertise in investigating fires connected to incidents of civil unrest.

Just during the first six months of 2020 alone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports a 19.2 percent increase in arson cases, compared to 2019. And cases were up 52.1 percent in cities with a population of one million or more.

Protests and economic pressure have increased arson statistics for 2020. While final data is still being compiled, various areas across the U.S. are reporting increases in property destruction by arson as a method of protest, insurance fraud and harmful intent. Typically, incendiary/arson fires represent approximately 27% of all fires. That number is expected to increase dramatically for 2020. The top five states typically reporting the highest numbers of incendiary/arson fires are Illinois, Florida, Texas, Missouri and California. Most arson fires typically target residential homes. Because reporting of arson is not mandatory in many regions, the actual incidence is thought to be much higher.

"During a year that has been quiet for many industries, arson investigation has been extremely busy," said Robert Toth, president of IAAI and a private fire and explosion investigator. "Our experts across the U.S. are reporting much higher arson numbers during 2020."

Toth continued, "Decreasing the incidence of arson crime depends on prevention through education and deterrence through prosecution. All community members share in that responsibility. The IAAI encourages the public to be partners with the fire service, law enforcement and the insurance industry in reporting arson crime. We always advocate to the public that, if you see something, say something."

For more information on the IAAI, visit www.firearson.com.

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Editor's Note: Arson investigator subject matter experts across the country are available for interviews. To schedule an interview, please contact Vicki Bendure at Vicki@bendurepr.com or 202-374-9259 (call or text.)

About the International Association of Arson Investigators
The International Association of Arson Investigators is an international professional association of more than 10,000 fire investigation professionals, united by a strong commitment to suppress the crime of arson through professional fire investigation. Learn more at www.firearson.com.