For Immediate Release: May 8, 2018

Contact: Ben Powell at 919-807-6017

Office of State Fire Marshal recognizes National Arson Awareness Week

RALEIGH -- The North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI), which houses the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), is partnering with the U.S Fire Administration on this year’s National Arson Awareness Week, May 6-12, with a focus on reducing arson at vacant and abandoned buildings.

“Arson is a serious crime that the North Carolina Department of Insurance and the Office of the State Fire Marshal is committed to not only investigating but also preventing,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. “We encourage communities and local officials to take proactive steps to increase public awareness of the problem and measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of being a victim of arson.”

In January, OSFM hired two new fire investigators and NCDOI assigned two new fraud investigators to help municipalities in their effort to prevent intentional fires and handle insurance fraud involving arson.

In February, OSFM collaborated with the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys and the State Bureau of Investigation to offer an arson prosecution course at Wake Technical Community College.

The two-day class called “Up In Smoke” (Video attached), featured a live burn demonstration as well as classroom instruction to educate fire investigators, police officers, and prosecutors on the best methods to collect and preserve evidence in order to prosecute arson cases to the fullest extent of the law.

The attached broadcast quality video includes b-roll of live burn demonstration at Wake Technical Community College and interviews with Fire Investigator Bill Marshall and NC Conference of District Attorneys Arson/Homicide Special Prosecutor Mike Muskus.

In an effort to help community organizations, local law enforcement, and fire safety officials to increase arson awareness, Commissioner Causey would like to release the following information about arson fires:

According to the U.S. Fire Administration's Vacant Residential Building Fires (2013 – 2015) Topical Fire Report published in January 2018:

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ United States Bomb Data Center’s Bomb and Arson Tracking System (BATS):

According to the February 2018 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report titled Fires in Vacant Buildings authored by Marty Ahrens:

During the same period, an estimated average of 3,310 firefighters per year were injured at vacant building fires. Thirteen percent of firefighter injuries at structure fires occurred in or at vacant buildings.