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County Executive John R Leopold Announces 2008 Arson Awareness Week

Annapolis (May 5, 2008) - County Executive John R. Leopold announces that the week of May 5 -9, 2008, is proclaimed "Arson Awareness Week" in Anne Arundel County. The theme this year, as determined by the United States Fire Administration under the Department of Homeland Security, is "Toy-like Lighters - Playing with Fire."

"Toy-like lighters may seem innocuous but they pose a very real danger to our children and to our community. We must focus attention on this important national fire service problem on a local level to affect the safety and well-being of our children in our community," County Executive Leopold said in announcing the important initiative. "We support the United States Fire Administration’s request for local jurisdictions to work in reducing catastrophic injuries and loss of property due to fire."

The major goal of Arson Awareness Week is to create a national awareness and understanding of the arson-related problem in the United States by encouraging communities to get involved in the dissemination of arson awareness information by creating a simple, identifiable, and unifying message.

When children set fires in the home, the most common area of fire origin is the bedroom, and the material ignited is often bedding, mattresses, or clothing. In 2002, the National Fire Protection Association estimated 13,900 child-playing structure fires were reported in the U.S., with associated losses of 210 civilian deaths, 1,250 civilian injuries, and $339 million in direct damage. Most child-playing home fires are started with lighters or matches. The median age of children who start reported fires by playing is 5 years old, compared to a median age of 4 years old for fatal victims, and a median age in the late teens for nonfatal injuries.

Arson Awareness Week is promoted by the United States Fire Administration and the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI). Also partnering with the USFA and the IAAI this year are the Fire Safe Children and Families Program and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

For more information, including a media kit, poster, examples of State and local novelty lighter ban legislation, and a regional list of youth set fires, visit the Arson Awareness Week section [ http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/subjects/arson/arson_awareness.shtm ] of the USFA Web site.

The United States Fire Administration recommends everyone should have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.


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