Local fire officials estimate that as many as half of all fires are intentionally set. Why do arsonists act? Possible motives are many: thrill-seeking, vandalism, concealing a crime, revenge, profit/insurance fraud/debt elimination and terrorism may prompt these criminals to act. Arson is more than a property crime. It inflicts grave human costs to firefighters, property owners and tenants.
“Arson is a complex issue. It’s hard to identify after the flames are extinguished. Motives are difficult to pinpoint,” says Leslie Anderson, Vice President of Training and Launch for Paul Davis. “An arsonist taking revenge, for example, may strike years after the perceived affront. We recommend preventing this crime in the first place by assessing 10 factors on your property that raise the risk of arson damage.”
Unrest or risky behavior nearby: Arson can be an offshoot of unrest or antisocial activities taking place near commercial properties. Increase vigilance during times of unrest: connect with local police forces and increase onsite security. If risky behavior such as vandalism or illegal drug peddling occurs nearby, join neighbourhood watch groups, hire security firms and/or evaluate permanent security improvements onsite.
Lax entry security: Arson can be a crime of opportunity. Leaving windows and doors unlocked – even for short periods of time – invite arsonists to act. Institute entry checks and lock all entries prior to leaving the property even briefly. Daytime isn’t necessarily more secure: arsonists act in daylight frequently.
Lazy alarm system use: Alarm systems are excellent arson deterrents – if they are set. Always set alarms prior to leaving the property, even if your departure will be brief. Additionally, security systems monitored by security firms further heighten security.
Darkness: Nighttime hours increase risks for many property crimes like theft – add arson to the list. Darkness conceals criminals and nefarious activities. Motion-activated outdoor lighting is an effective deterrent.
Unkempt premises: Refuse is one of the top items ignited by arsonists. Remove or secure all daily trash. Clear property of standing debris and care for the landscaping and premises – long grass and downed branches are favourite arson targets, too.
Unsecured fuel: Arsonists favour matches and lighters when committing this crime. Unsecured fuel like gasoline, solvents or outdoor fuel tanks provide opportunities for these bad actors to utilize.
Vacant property: If the property will be vacant for periods of time – including overnight – consider contracting with a security firm. If that’s not possible, connect with local police forces to alert them of vacant periods. Most police forces will boost patrols at no charge.
Lack of awareness: Stay alert for risky behaviour and crimes against property in your vicinity. Share this information with neighbours and nearby commercial properties. Develop relationships with emergency personnel, fire departments and police as well, who will keep you apprised of local developments that may threaten your location.
Lack of training: Do occupants know how to respond if flames break out on the property? Ensure that all those using the property know where the fire alarms are located, how to use fire extinguishers, plus telltale signs of developing fires and how to properly respond to a fire. Often, local fire marshals will train occupants at no charge.
Lack of firefighting tools: Many small fires can be effectively extinguished by people onsite at your location – if your fire extinguishers are clearly marked, distributed according to fire marshal recommendations and regularly maintained according to law. Fire marshals point to lack of maintenance as a frequent fire code violation on commercial properties.
Learn more about combatting arson at your commercial property by calling your local Paul Davis office or dialing 844-215-7898 for more information.