Firefighter Arson (CASE STUDY-20 International/Cultural)
START HERE Who are these firefighters who weave back and forth between the role of knight and knave? Day care workers who molest children, religious leaders who seduce parishioners, police officers who brutalize citizens—unfortunately, our icons seem to crumble regularly in the national news. They break a sacred trust and public outrage becomes the expression of private fear. Righteous indignation comes easy when the guilt is somewhere else. But when the headlines scream “Fireman Arrested for Arson,” it gets downright personal. (see more below) LINKS - MORE DETAILED ABC 7 News: (North Carolina) Ten Volunteer Firefighters charged with arson (2018/07/10) Excerpt: Following a year-long investigation, 10 volunteer firefighters have been arrested and accused of intentionally setting fires to abandoned homes and woods throughout Robeson County in North Carolina. Sheriff Ken Sealey said firefighters with the Fairmont and Orrum Fire Department set the fires over a two-year period, WPDE The Canadian Press: Firefighters who start fires: a look at the phenomenon of 'firefighter arson' (2016/05/03) East Valley Tribune: (Arizona) Firefighters arrested on suspicion of Arson 0e623a2e4555.html Fire Chief: Firefighter Arson: Could it happen within your ranks? (2018/07/20) Fox 10 Phoenix: (Arizona) Phoenix Firefighter arrested by Phoenix Police New Mexico Fire Chiefs: Addressing the Fire Fighter Arson Problem Newsday: (Long Island, New York) Bethpage firefighter charged with arson suspended by department. By Michael O'Keeffe (2018/08/20) Excerpt: Christopher Cordeiro, a member of the Bethpage Fire Department, was charged in connection with starting five fires since June 2017.A Long Island firefighter accused of setting five fires since June 2017 was suspended by the Bethpage Fire Department Monday, shortly after he appeared in Nassau County Court for arraignment on arson and other charges. Nassau police took Christopher Cordeiro, 20, into custody Sunday night at Bethpage Fire Station 5, about 14 hours after he started a fire that caused $3,000 in damage to a shed and a PVC fence on North Hermann Avenue in Bethpage, according to court papers filed by District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office. NVFC: National Volunteer Fire Council: Firefighter Arson Problem:Context, Considerations, and Best Practices Excerpt: Identifying a Firefighter Arsonist The data collected from media reports indicates that there is not one archetypal firefighter arsonist. Previous reports have championed the use of profiles to identify the traits and motives of a firefighter arsonist. Profiles were designed to give fire chiefs and investigators an idea of the likelycharacteristics and motivations of many firefighter arsonists. They have proven popular and have been reproduced in many fire service articles, newspaper stories, and official reports. However, it has become increasingly clear that many firefighter arsonists do not fit neatly into one profile. The Impact of Firefighter Arson Firefighter arson threatens the general reputation of the fire service and creates sizeable rifts within the department itself. The department is faced with intense scrutiny from the media, government officials, and the community. The aftermath of having an arsonist within the ranks can cause irreparable damage. The firefighter’s former colleagues are left to pick up the pieces and salvage their reputation, while recruitment and retention efforts suffer. Additionally, department leadership often comes under fire. It is of the utmost importance that fire service leaders, both volunteer and career, take this issue seriously and develop a collective approach to address this issue. Investigation Fire departments can adopt simple strategies to identify trends and warning signs that may indicate firefighter arson. Data collection is crucial when investigating an arson case, and using mapping techniques to identify trends and patterns may prove to be valuable. Prompt information-sharing with all involved agencies will lend itself to the timely apprehension of the suspect(s). Beyond data collection, fire departments can adopt simple habits such as: • Investigating the origin and cause of each and every fire. • Documenting and requesting a statement from the 911 caller(s) about what they saw and from what vantage point. • Recording the names and times of the first arriving firefighters on the scene.The analysis of arson trends is important because it can help identify (or clear) potential suspects as well as tailor investigative strategies to the particular case. Prevention Conducting background checks on potential recruits is a first step departments should take before accepting new members. It is, however, important to note that while criminal record checks are a vital and necessary part of a fire department’s “due diligence” to ensure applicants are not convicted arsonists, sex offenders, etc., they may not be sufficient. The presumption is that firefighter arsonists are NVFC Report on the Firefighter Arson Problem: Context, Considerations, and Best Practices 5arsonists, or at least unsavory characters, who later become firefighters. While this certainly can be the case, research has indicated that the vast majority of offenders became arsonists after joining the fire service. Screening techniques will be insufficient in these cases, but they are still valuable in helping a department make a well-informed decision when accepting a new recruit. State SC: FIREFIGHTER ARSON: LOCAL ALARM. By Ken Cabe (1994-1996) Excerpt: Day care workers who molest children, religious leaders who seduce parishioners, police officers who brutalize citizens—unfortunately, our icons seem to crumble regularly in the national news. They break a sacred trust and public outrage becomes the expression of private fear. Righteous indignation comes easy when the guilt is somewhere else. But when the headlines scream “Fireman Arrested for Arson,” it gets downright personal. The South Carolina Forestry Commission began looking closely at this phenomenon in 1993. By the end of the year, the tally of confirmed arrests was truly alarming—at least 33 fire department volunteers had been charged with arson. In 1994, 47 more were arrested. Forestry Commission and South Carolina Fire Service officials alike were astounded at the extent of the problem. “We knew it happened occasionally,” said Miles Knight, fire chief of the Forestry Commission, “but we were surprised by numbers like this.” Is this something relatively new, perhaps related to the popularity of “real-life emergency” television programming? Or is it a long standing problem, the magnitude of which had eluded the scrutiny of fire management professionals? Maybe these cases just didn’t stand out among the thousands of other arson incidents, and maybe sensitivity to the embarrassment of involved departments clouded our vision. We may never know for certain because most law enforcement records don’t routinely differentiate between arsonists who are firefighters and those who are not. Without comprehensive information, the natural tendency is to view each case as an isolated incident. This may be the case in other southern states as well. Most forestry agencies in the south acknowledge that firefighter arson does occur to some extent. The Alabama Forestry Commission says they investigated five or six cases in 1993; Arkansas has had five or six cases over the past few years; Kentucky has a “significant problem” with individuals setting fires so they can be hired to put them out; and Louisiana notes that wildland firefighters sometimes set fires to gain overtime pay. Some state law enforcement agencies in the south can tell you how many cases of firefighter arson they have prosecuted, but we found no single source of information in any of the states we polled. The situation is much the same with national fire agencies—nobody seems to know, and at least one major national fire agency denied having any knowledge of firefighter arson whatsoever. Developing good communication among agencies with arson jurisdiction is the key to determining whether firefighter arson is a significant problem. In South Carolina, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Arson Unit was already aware that firefighter arson was significant. Coordination between SLED and the Forestry Commission brought the problem to the fore. These two organizations now regularly share information and cooperate in joint investigations. Updates: 2020/05/06 Page Firefighter Arson Moved to Police Factor from River Gold; Page Started 10/21/2018
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