Preventing arson in the community

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.

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