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Serial Arsonists Targeted by State Fire Marshal’s Crime Mapping Program

1/28/2003

TALLAHASSEE – Beginning next month, the State Fire Marshal's Office will be able to track crime data from every fire and law enforcement department in the state and use the information to track down serial arsonists more quickly.

"Between 2000 and 2001, dollar losses associated with fires in Florida increased by nearly 50 percent," said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. "This new technology will help our fire and arson investigators analyze fire scenes and more quickly track down arsonists before they strike again."

Integrated Crime Analysis Tools, developed by 4thWatch Systems Inc., will be used by crime analysts within the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, the law enforcement branch of the State Fire Marshal's Office, located within the Department of Financial Services. This investigative tool uses information on fire locations and types to connect series of similar crimes to determine the most probable area of offender movement. This aids in developing targeted geographical possibilities where law enforcement surveillance can be employed to arrest arsonists in the act.


"With present tools, analysts often have only statistics to help them identify crime trends," said Rand Napoli, director of the State Fire Marshal's Office. "Now, our analysts will be able to create maps for our criminal investigators that track and group fires, saving hundreds of man hours and making us more proactive in our investigations."


The bureau conducts approximately 7,000 investigations each year of major fires, explosions, and arson-related incidents, and last year made more than 500 arson-related arrests. Bureau investigators, who have full police powers of arrest, include Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians, canine handlers, and computerized voice-stress analysts. The Bureau has three mobile arson response vans strategically located throughout the state and uses the resources of the State Fire Marshal's fire and arson laboratory to collect and analyze forensic evidence. The bureau is supported by 10 crime intelligence analysts.

Visit www.fldfs.com for more information about the Department of Financial Services and the State Fire Marshal's Office. Anyone with information about a suspicious fire can call the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations' hotline at 1-800-638-3473, 24 hours a day. Information can also be mailed to the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 151, Orlando, Florida, 32803. Information can be given anonymously.