Local nonprofit educates the community on National Arson Awareness Week

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—National Arson Awareness week takes place during the first week of May and highlights what precautionary steps first-responders, and the general public need to take in order to stay safe from arson-related fires.

National Arson Awareness Week was founded by the U.S. Fire Administration and each year a common educational theme is selected.

This year, the theme will highlight arson-safety measures amid civil unrest. Civil unrest may occur during heightened community tension or at mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and political conventions.  The safety risk for fire and emergency medical services personnel responding to the incidents could be elevated — especially, during the heightened tension in 2020 where some protesters started arson-related fires.

“Arson is the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to a property,” said Michael McLeieer, President of E.S.C.A.P.E., a nonprofit which teaches fire & safety.

McLeieer is educating the community about the dangers of arson this week, and suggests an arson-related fire could start off small; however, expand into an even more dangerous situation. He suggests if a civil unrest protest were to spark in the future people should travel with caution, and keep a low profile.

“Anything where there’s large gatherings be aware there could be traffic delays,” McLeieer said. “There could even be roads that are blocked and detours that are initiated to make sure that we keep everybody safe and it’s never a safe choice to drive through a demonstration.”

What to do if you during civil unrest?

  • Prepare a safe evacuation route.
  • Secure your home.
  • Stay in your car.
  • Keep cash on hand in a safe place.
  • Observe locally enforced curfews, ordinances and regulations.
  • If you become injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  911 response may be delayed in the immediate area of the unrest.
  • Insurance policies usually don’t cover damage.

What Can You Do To Stay Safe?

  • Avoid large events and gatherings.
  • COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are extremely high across the United States and here in Michigan. 

McLeieer told 6 News there are special investigators who can determine certain burn patterns that usually differ from accidental fires.

“It’s a lengthy process to determine origin on cause,” McLeieer said, “but we want to make sure we preserve as much evidence as possible even when there’s damage there’s still evidence that’s left behind.”

Arson awareness is crucial amid the high dangers it proves to society. McLeieer wants society to know if the community stands together and collaborates arson-related fires could become scarce.

“It’s not a fire department problem it’s a community-wide problem,” McLeieer said. “When the community can come together and collaborate, be aware of the risks.

“We can certainly improve the quality of life and put a handle on the check of this negativity and prevent it from happening in the first place.”

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