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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Arson for revenge shows troubling threat to firefighters

Arson fires pose a very real threat to firefighters who can easily become "collateral damage" in an arsonist's personal vendetta

By Adam K. Thiel

We all know that arson, for any reason, is an extremely destructive crime; not just to the individuals and families directly involved in an event, but to the entire community.

I think many of us expect(ed) to see an increase in the number of arson fires nationwide due to the depressed economic conditions across the United States, especially the residential and commercial real estate markets.

This story is particularly interesting because it suggests a different (or additional) motivation, and one that is also linked to the broader national picture; specifically the lack of civility and upward trend in general antisocial behavior.

Arson for vengeance is nothing new, but an increase of this magnitude is especially troubling.

Why? Beyond the economic and social implications for victims and their communities, arson fires pose a very real threat to firefighters who can easily become "collateral damage" in an arsonist's personal vendetta.

While many departments are suffering financially, it's important to maintain our comprehensive fire prevention programs, including arson investigation capabilities, as an essential facet of protecting our communities from all hazards.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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