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Last Updated: 2009-10-07

Arson Fact Sheet

Research conducted by the NFPA indicates that each year between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 216,330 intentionally set fires were reported to fire departments in the United States. This research also includes 196,480 outside or unclassified fires, 49,690 structure fires, 13,160 vehicle fires. Losses resulting from these fires included:

    • 440 civilian deaths
    • 1,310 civilian injuries
    • $1 billion in direct property damage

    75% of these fires occurred outside, 19% of these intentional fires involved structures, 87 % of these fires accounted for civilian’s deaths, 84% civilian injuries and 86% of direct property damage resulting from intentional fires. Vehicle fires account for 6% of all intentional fires. Comparing figures from 2007-2011, there has been a slight decrease in the data collected during the 2010-2014 time period. Juvenile offenders accounted for 45% of all intentional fires set.

    What are Common Motives for Arsonists?

    • Crime concealment: murder, burglary, or vehicle theft
    • Revenge or spite: anger at others, perhaps a perceived injustice
    • Monetary Gain: profit driven
    • Malicious Vandalism: destroy property, frequently set by juveniles
    • Mental Illness; persons who have an irresistible impulse to set fires

    What is the Real Cost of Arson?

    • Human Cost; these are crimes against people, targeting vacant building, the public, and public safety personnel are at risk, a major fire in a occupied structures i.e. apartments are more severe. 
    • Direct Cost – value of property destroyed, the staff and equipment used to extinguish the fire and the cost of insurance
    • Indirect Cost – loss tax base, unemployment costs to those out of work, medical expenses for injured or killed firefighters and civilians   

    What Can You Do About Arson in Your Community?

    If we are to effectively address the arson problem in our communities, every citizen must participate in combating this vicious crime. This means understanding the impact arson has on the community and cooperating to prevent arson, and reporting suspicious persons and activities that may result in arson.

    Consult with your local fire or police officials to determine the extent to which arson is a problem in your community or neighborhood. If a particular part of your community is plagued by arson, you should get involved before the problem spreads or becomes worse. Generate interest among your neighbors and friends. Start or participate in a community watch program. Report all suspicious activity to the local police department or fire department. Everyone needs to be involved in Arson Prevention.

    Protecting Yourself From Arson

    If communities are to effectively address the arson problem, every citizen must participate in combating this vicious crime. We must truly understand the greater impact arson causes, but cooperation between neighbors can prevent potential arson.

      • Encourage Neighborhood Watch Groups and educate
      • Secure Abandoned vacant homes which are potential arson targets
      • Report all suspicious fires, large or small to your local fire department
      • Using motion –activated lighting
      • Maintain constant communication with your local fire and police department


Contact Information:

Fire Department
City of Richmond
201 E. Franklin St.
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: (804)646-2500

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