Australia: Crime Stoppers campaign to “stamp out bushfire arson”

 

Did you know that Crime Stoppers Victoria is a not for profit corporation?

If you think about the impact on individuals and communities, deliberately starting a bushfire is perhaps one of the worst for the potential havoc and damage that it can cause.

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Perhaps the arsonist can’t grasp the potential of their actions: maybe they believe a small fire is exciting to watch start and be put out by firefighters. Perhaps there is the hero factor. They start a small fire then call the emergency services and wish to be the hero who first reported the fire or ‘heroically’ tried to extinguish it until help arrived. Maybe it is an insurance job. Perhaps it is willful carelessness of throwing a cigarette butt out the window of a car.

It does not matter what recklessness or criminal intention was in mind, with extreme weather, the results can be deadly.

Any firefighter will tell you how quickly a single match applied to just one patch of dry grass can quickly spread into araging inferno, pushed by high winds, fueled by tinder dry bush and low humidity: this may be where most arsonists get it wrong, how quickly it can get out of hand, but the results are potentially the same. Each fire has potential for wide scale death, destruction and trauma for children, families and communities. And then there is the massive cost of an emergency response, the to their safety and the slow, painful recovery from the wrath and radiant heat and flames.

No matter how small the incident, please report any suspicious activity by calling Police on 000 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (Australian only). Reports can also be filed confidentially online at http://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au .

Today, as bushfires exhaust, destroy or threaten communities of Western Australia (#WAfires), we have mild beautiful weather in State of Victoria. At the Country Fire Authority (CFA) Warrandyte station, in the bushy green belt on the fringe of suburban Melbourne, Crime Stoppers Victoria, Chief Officers and the Minister for Emergency Services launched the “stamp out bushfire arson” campaign.

While developed in response to the devastating 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, the call comes after several homes were destroyed in a Warrandyte bushfire last year: for which some children are still receiving counselling for anxiety.

So do the right thing. It is everyone’s responsibility: report it!

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The Minister for Emergency Services, Jane Garrett, as someone asks “where is Euan Ferguson?” L-R: MFB Chief Officer, Peter Rau; Crime Stoppers Victoria CEO, Samantha Hunter; Minister for Emergency Services, Jane Garrett; Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner, Craig Lapsley; Victoria Police Acting Deputy Commissioner, Shane Patton.

The program seems to be working, with bushfire arson or reckless fire reports from the community rising almost 300 percent since it’s inception. Samantha Hunter, CEO of Crime Stoppers Victoria said “Victoria is one of the highest bushfire risk areas in the world… preventing bushfires is everyone’s responsibility.”

Our current lull in extreme heat wont last and the next few weeks may see Summer return to Victoria with vengeance. In the meantime, we have dispatched hundreds of firefighters and aircraft to Western Australia to help our fellow emergency service personnel and communities in their time of need.

 

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