The Clewiston News

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater talks fire safety basics during Arson Awareness Week

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, recognizes May 7-13 as Arson Awareness Week by reminding Floridians to practice basic fire safety.

“Lives are put needlessly at risk, homes are destroyed and acres of land are ruined by this senseless, preventable crime,” said CFO Atwater. “As wildfires have ravaged parts of Florida, some started by human intervention, now is the time to focus on this costly, detrimental crime and how we can all do more to stop it.”

As summer months approach and Floridians spend more time outdoors, consumers should keep these safety tips in mind:
• Always douse camp fires with water and never leave until the fire has been completely extinguished
• Never throw cigarette butts out of a car window or drop them on the grass. Snuff the cigarette out completely and dispose of it properly in an ash tray
• Never pour out gasoline or other chemicals in a yard or other grassy area
• Abide by all county and local burn bans and refrain from burning garbage or yard debris

During 2016, the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations responded to 3,799 fires across Florida, 1,264 of which were determined to be arson-related. These fires amounted to nearly $30 million in property damage and caused 56 injuries and 25 fatalities.

To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766). Tips that lead directly to an arrest and conviction may be eligible for a $5,000 reward. Information can be provided anonymously.

Arson Awareness Week in Florida is part of a nationwide initiative to educate the public on the important role of community arson awareness and how it can and does play an important role preventing this dangerous crime.