RURAL Arson Control
produce their own public information/education materials. They stated a need for material that could be used directly or easily adapted to local needs. Benefits that could be derived are:
Direct public support for arson control efforts (e.g., prosecution); A decrease in the number of set fires; Increased public willingness to provide information through tip lines; and, Increased level of support from other agencies and officials (e.g., from law enforcement, elected officials).
Arson Control Expert Concurrence
Work with community volunteer programs to ensure that arson is understood to be a rural problem as well as an urban one. The Southeast Oklahoma Fire Prevention Association, a fire prevention cooperative formed in 1978, uses public education and information about arson as key elements of its program. Most successful has been a 1982 public information film produced in an area with a high rate of incendiary fires. Using local funds and with local citizens as actors, the film has greatly increased public awareness of and support for arson control measures. The effort also includes a “Learn Not To Bum” program for juveniles through the school system. This resulted in a 33% reduction in incendiary fires in its first three years of operation.
The Florida Fire Marshal’s office makes a special effort to publicize the stiff penalties for arson under the state’s arson law. Publicity is also given to prosecutions and convictions.
The Klamath County, Oregon Arson Strike Force has had good cooperation from media in publicizing its efforts. Perhaps because of this, few trials result from the Strike Force program. The well-publicized efforts the Strike Force may increase willingness of defendants to plead guilty to a lesser charge due to a perceived likelihood of conviction.
The Indiana Fire Marshal’s office operates an arson hotline using a toll-free phone number. The phone number, together with information on the program, is regularly broadcast on radio and TV stations around the state as a public service announcement.
Neighborhood Watch programs might be approached to assist in anti-arson and arson awareness activities.