ARSON AWARENESS WEEK FOCUSES ON COSTLY
CFO Sink: “Think You’ll Get Away With It, Think Again”
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink
announced a slate of events scheduled this week throughout Florida to
bring attention to costs and risks associated with vehicle arson. The
events are part of Arson Awareness Week, which began on Sunday, May 6,
and continues through Saturday, May 12. The theme is “Vehicle Arson:
Who Pays for This Crime?”
The motives for vehicle
arson are varied and range from thieves hiding evidence of a crime to
owners trying to get out of expensive leases. Last year in Florida,
more than 6,800 passenger vehicles burned causing 20 deaths and 51
injuries, including 12 firefighter injuries. Criminal charges relating
to vehicle arson can result in prison sentences ranging from five to 30
years per count.
“Arson is a violent
crime because there is always the risk of someone getting hurt or
killed,” said CFO Sink. “Our intention this week is to get the word out
that if you think you’ll get away with it, think again. Our arson
detectives are among the best in the nation and the odds are in our
As part of Arson
Awareness Week, the Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and
Arson Investigations (BFAI), and the Tallahassee Fire Department staged
a mock vehicle arson investigation. The public watched as a vehicle is
set on fire and arson detectives, including a K-9 team, investigated and
collected evidence. The demonstration continued at the state arson
laboratory where forensic chemists tested and verified the collected
Other activities around the state include the Governor and Cabinet
signing a resolution declaring this week Arson Awareness Week, a
proclamation to be signed by the Osceola County Commission commemorating
Arson Awareness Week, public discussions on how to prevent vehicle
arson, an essay contest for elementary school students in Broward
County, and displays and other activities designed to draw attention to
the risks and costs associated with vehicle arson.
CFO Sink is urging Floridians to help stop vehicle arson by following
• Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
• Close all windows.
• Remove key from ignition.
• Always lock doors, trunk and tailgate.
• Use anti-theft devices.
• Report any abandoned vehicle to local law enforcement authorities.
fires are caused by electrical or mechanical problems, and CFO Sink
offered the following advice in the event of a vehicle fire:
• Get yourself and
others out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
• Call 911.
• Stay away from the vehicle.
• Do not attempt to extinguish the fire yourself.
• Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire.
Following are events
planned for Arson Awareness Week in Florida:
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
- Arson Awareness Week proclamation will be presented
by the Osceola County Commission during a meeting at 6 p.m. at Kissimmee
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
- Mock vehicle arson investigation at 10 a.m. at the Tallahassee Fire
Department Training Facility, located at 2964 Municipal Way in
Tallahassee. The mock investigation will continue at the state arson
laboratory at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy on Route 90 West
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the BFAI and Tampa Fire-Rescue will have an Arson
Awareness Week display on the Franklin Street Mall near the Tampa Police
Thursday, May 10, 2007
- The Panama City Office and Northwest region of the BFAI along with
fire departments and members of the law enforcement community will
discuss vehicle arson at a meeting at 9 a.m. at the Panama City Fire
Department, located at 600 E. Business Highway 98, in Panama City.
the Fort Myers Field Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, in
conjunction with the Department of Financial Services, Division of
Insurance Fraud, and the Fort Myers Fire Department, Fire Prevention
Unit, will participate in a display with emphasis on the fraud aspect of
vehicle arson. The display will be inside Edison Mall, (the Dillards’
court area), 4125 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday, May 11, 2007
- Detective Greg Gilkey, of the West Palm Beach BFAI office, and his new
K-9 partner, Ember, a yellow Labrador Retriever, will be graduating from
the State Farm-sponsored Arson Dog School in Alfred, Maine, after
completing a five-week training program certified by the Maine Criminal
Justice Academy. The BFAI has five K-9 arson teams.
May 15 and 18, 2007
- The winners of an essay contest coordinated by the State Fire
Marshal’s Office and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Department of
Fire Rescue, will be announced. The contest includes fourth and fifth
graders at several schools, and the overall winner will receive four
tickets to a Florida Marlin’s game. Also, arson detectives from both
offices will be speaking during Arson Awareness Week to various youth
groups about the dangers and consequences of arson.
The Bureau of Fire and
Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of
State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law
enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious
origin. To report suspected arson, call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).