The firefighter arson phenomenon is one of the most difficult stigmas we face in the fire service.
It didn't help that the movie "Backdraft," while certainly a testament to firefighters' bravery and heroism, made a firefighter-arsonist a central character in the plot.
Now I don't believe, nor have I seen any credible evidence to suggest, that firefighters have a greater propensity to commit arson than members of the at-large population.
For obvious reasons, however, the notion of a firefighter committing such a heinous crime is unconscionable and will always be headline news.
So what's the point? Do those of us who have dedicated our lives to preventing and extinguishing fires have a duty to stamp out firefighter arson? Of course we do, but how?
I have to admit that I don't know enough about what would possibly motivate a firefighter to commit arson; potentially risking his/her own life, the lives of our sisters and brothers, and those we are sworn to protect. The very idea is so far beyond my realm of comprehension, I simply cannot imagine having to deal with it; still, I understand it's something we cannot ignore.
While we probably cannot prevent every case of firefighter arson, we must address the problem through our recruiting processes, both career and volunteer, and by supporting firefighters with expanded behavioral health services throughout their careers-and beyond.