Volume 5 Number 14
April 4, 2008

CFO SINK TURNS UP THE HEAT ON THIEVES STEALING ESSENTIAL FIRE EQUIPMENT

Theft of Sprinkler Backflows from Commercial Buildings Jeopardizes Public Safety

Florida State Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of two men in connection with the theft of meters on fire department sprinkler backflows throughout Broward and Dade Counties. Fire sprinkler backflows provide essential water to sprinkler systems in commercial buildings, a life-saving resource in the event of a fire emergency.

“These individuals knowingly put hundreds of lives in danger,” said State Fire Marshal Alex Sink. “I commend our State Fire Marshal’s Office for their diligence in pursuing these criminals willing to put the public at risk for their own petty benefit.”

A multi-agency investigation, including the Plantation Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, led to the arrest of Brian Williams, 30, charged with six counts of grand theft, six counts of tampering with fire equipment, and one count of violating probation; and Kevin Durkin, 48, charged with four counts of grand theft and four counts of tampering with fire equipment.

“This is a national epidemic,” said Les Hallman, Division Director of the State Fire Marshal's Office. “If anyone is out there is still thinking they can make a quick buck by stealing fire equipment, they better be prepared to serve some serious time—we’re on to them.”

The investigation was prompted by surveillance video from a Target store, obtained by the Plantation Fire Department and handed over to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, showing Williams removing fire protection equipment. Williams, previously employed by a fire equipment company that installed fire protection devices, wore his former employer’s uniform to avoid suspicion by a Hollywood scrap metal recycler accepting the brass meters. Another subject, Durkin, was identified, and stole 19 meters on the first day of surveillance. The meters bring $7 to $10 each, but cost businesses up to $1500 to replace.

If you have any information regarding the theft of fire equipment please call the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations at (850) 413-3173, or contact local law enforcement immediately.