According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an estimated 282,600 intentionally set fires nationwide each year, causing an average of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries and $1.3 billion dollars in property damage.
Bend has experienced several arsons in recent years, from the downtown church fires in 2013, to last week’s intentionally set fire in a business in the Old Mill area, to a string of small, suspicious brush fires over the past weekend.
Arson fires are a community problem, but a few simple steps can help to protect your property and your neighborhood from the threat of arson:
Tips to prevent arson in your neighborhood or place of business:
- Remove excess vegetation, building materials and other combustible debris from your property.
- Keep shrubbery and trees trimmed that might offer someone a place to hide on your property.
- Consider use of non-combustible landscaping material – for example, pea gravel instead of bark dust or wood chips.
- Store recycling bins and garbage cans in a secure location. Businesses with dumpsters should keep them a minimum of 5 feet from building walls, eaves, and overhangs, and consider locking dumpster lids.
- Remove ladders and equipment when not in use, and store them in a secure location to prevent unwanted access to roof areas.
- Illuminate the exterior and entrances of homes and businesses using motion-activated lighting near doors and windows.
- Ensure vacant or abandoned homes are secure – contact law enforcement if there are signs of trespassing or vandalism.
- Install monitored alarm systems – combination burglar/fire alarm systems are an excellent option. Businesses should consider surveillance cameras as well.
- Secure all doors and windows at night or when the building is not occupied.
- Get to know your neighbors – knowing who belongs in the area, and who doesn’t, is one of the best tools to help keep your neighborhood safe.