1. #1
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    Angry Yet another &$@#T!U^ sets a fire!

    I got this in my email this morning.
    Will this ever stop...
    *******
    Deleware Volunteer fireman charged in Farmington arsons

    By TERRI SANGINITI
    Staff reporter
    09/20/2002

    A 21-year-old volunteer firefighter was charged Thursday with setting five recent brush fires in the Farmington area, including a stubborn woods blaze last month that burned 130 acres and took more than 300 firefighters to extinguish.

    Brian R. Hill, of the 10000 block of Woodyard Road in Greenwood, faces one felony count and four misdemeanor counts of reckless burning, fire investigators said. He was released on $9,000 bail after being arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 6 in Harrington.

    If convicted of the felony count, Hill could be sentenced to two years in prison and fined. The amount of the fine would be determined by the court.

    The misdemeanor counts each carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

    When Hill was interviewed by investigators Sept. 9, he told them that he intentionally started the fire "so he could ride the fire trucks to the fires," according to court records.

    Investigators said Hill told them "he had been setting fires over the past five years," court records said.

    Farmington Volunteer Fire Company Chief Tom Williams said Hill had been a member of the company for eight years. He has been suspended pending the outcome of his trial.

    State Fire Marshal Willard F. Preston III said Hill is accused of setting the woods and field fires between March 19 and Aug. 21.

    The most damaging fire was Aug. 21 near Flatiron and Hammondtown roads west of Farmington. That blaze consumed a tree farm valued at $60,000, along with the 130 acres.

    State fire marshal investigators said Hill told them he used a lighter to ignite dry grass, court records said. About 325 firefighters from 31 Delaware and Maryland companies spent 10 hours putting out the blaze, which reignited days later.

    Witnesses told fire officials that Hill's yellow car was spotted in the area just before or after two of the reported fires, court records said.

    Fire investigators said the case still is under investigation. In addition to the Aug. 21 fire, Hill has been charged in connection with:

    Using using a road flare March 19 to ignite dry grass on Saulsbury Road.

    Using a lighter to ignite dry grass April 20 on Mesibov Road.

    Using a lighter to ignite dry leaves June 2 on Hammondtown Road.

    Using a lighter to ignite dry leaves June 26 on Saulsbury Road.

    Hill also is facing felony theft charges of more than $1,000 in Sussex Superior Court stemming from a May 22 arrest for thefts from Federal Express boxes. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 16.

    According to court records, Hill is accused of stealing electronic equipment and other items from boxes at the FedEx facility near Bridgeville between early April and mid-May. The stolen property included two cellular phones, three softball bats, two six-disc CD changers and a watch.

    Preston said Thursday he could not recall the last time a Delaware firefighter was charged with setting fires.

    "Any time it happens, we're disappointed," he said.

    In 2000, a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter and son of the assistant fire chief in Kennett Square, Pa., was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison for setting 15 area fires.

    Thomas E. Roberts III faces an additional 20 years of probation after he is released for causing an estimated $2 million in damages to the Kennett Auction, Harvest Fresh Mushroom Farm and Juniper Hill Apartments. More than 40 tenants were left homeless in the apartment blaze.
    ********
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  2. #2
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    Very odd that this occurred in DE. They have a portion of their FFI curriculum that deals with FF arson. Does anyone know if he attended FFI?

    In DE, FF Arson will not be taken lightly. Watch the backlash on this guy.

  3. #3
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    Default Suspended pending the outcome of the trial?

    George:
    I have three issues that you most certainly know the answers to:
    1) Why would this person believe that he had to set fires in order to ride the fire trucks?
    2) Why would the department suspend him pending the outcome of the trial when he has admitted to setting fires for the past five years?
    3) Do you have any data on FF firesetters that are volunteer? In other words; percentage of fires set by volunteer firefighters vs. all other arsonists and volunteer vs. career FF firesetters? I am not trying to get "that" argument going. I am a vollie. I just want to know if it is more prevalent in the volunteer ranks or in the career ranks.
    Thanks for posting yet another disgraceful incident. How many is that this year? Truly a national problem that must be addressed.
    Stay safe.

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    Chief;

    #3 addresses one of the biggest problems here. A problem that none of the fire service organizations wants to tackle. Nobody keeps track of this. Not the USFA, not the FBI, not the NVFC, not the NFPA, nobody. It is extremely difficult to speak in anything other than anecdotal means when there is no hard data to back it up.

    Anecdotally, it is rare when a career FF sets fires. When he does, you will find that there are other than the usual motives. In NJ, we had a Forest Fire Service member set fires for OT pay. In Boston, fires were set years ago during a labor dispute. In CA, a professional fire investigator set dozens of fires in order to bolster his professional stature.

    I sound like a broken record, but the motives for Vol. FF fire setting are very understandable and predictable. Yearning for camaraderie, the excitement of the fire fight, the sense of belonging to something (especially for those people who have never belonged to anything before, the feeling of power and control.

    These motives are understandable and the behavior is predictable. Mandatory psychological testing prior to admission to the FD will screen out most candidates prone to fire setting (Huff, 1985).

    #2 is mind boggling. I suppose there is some logic to saying that he has not been convicted of a crime yet...he hasn't. But with the risk this guy poses to the public, I wouldn't take the chance.

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    The motives for the volunteer are the thrill and the power building. The paid person does it for money or for the same reason as the volunteer. Just look at 2 of the more high profile cases in the West, a female ranger and the contract FF. Seems to me that we need to do a better job of doing background checks. Then again, in the volunteer ranks it is hard to get enough members to do the job. Kind of a catch 22 there.

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    Chief

    In relation to #1, there are actually psych tests, very simply questions that could alert the Dept administration to the possibility that one of their new recruits would be prone to setting fires to "ride the truck"

    Giving an answer like that indicates that the individual in question is psychologically disturbed, that doesn't mean that they can't stand trial for their actions, just that there is an underlying psych problem.

    Where as people who set a fire for money, payback etc don't have the same underlying problem.

    I'll see if I can't find some tests that are specifically related arson. I'll pass them on to you. I'm not really comfortable with posting them on an open forum, but I'm sure that you or George (among others) would know of appropriate people to pass the information on to.

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    I would like a copy of that test also. As chief of a rural department that runs fire calls to green boxes and brush piles on a regular basis, I would like to screen out the element that might do that type thing so I don't have to worry about an internal problem. I can leave the fire setter for someone else to deal with and hope they do not hurt anyone or themselves. This is a very bad thing PR wise to have on the front page of the local paper.
    "Illegitimis non carborundum."

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    (Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")

  8. #8
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    Question

    So..what would be the motive here?(Not a lot of info provided)
    -----------------------------------------------
    SUDBURY -- The Crown has wrapped up its case against an O-P-P
    officer charged with arson.
    A Sudbury court heard yesterday the fire that destroyed drug
    evidence at an O-P-P station would have needed a lot of marijuana
    and time to burn in order to have started by itself.
    Forty-year-old Detective Constable James Buckle is accused of
    setting an evidence room ablaze at a North Bay O-P-P building in
    October 1997.
    Buckle's lawyer has argued the fire started by itself as a
    result of flammable liquid and decaying marijuana plants being
    stored in the room.
    But Terri Lang, a Toronto scientist with the Centre of Forensic
    Services, says spontaneous combustion would take a long time and
    would need a large amount of plants.
    The fire destroyed evidence in several drug-related cases.
    (Sudbury Star) NMC (from Broadcast News Ltd.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    OPP stands for the Ontario Provincial Police. I will not speak to this case directly, because I do not know the facts, but generally speaking, when there is a breach of the security of a law enforcement evidence room (fire, burglary, theft, etc.) the motive is generally to cover up missing items such as drugs or guns.

    Secondly,

    In relation to #1, there are actually psych tests, very simply questions that could alert the Dept administration to the possibility that one of their new recruits would be prone to setting fires to "ride the truck"

    Giving an answer like that indicates that the individual in question is psychologically disturbed, that doesn't mean that they can't stand trial for their actions, just that there is an underlying psych problem.

    Where as people who set a fire for money, payback etc don't have the same underlying problem.

    I'll see if I can't find some tests that are specifically related arson. I'll pass them on to you. I'm not really comfortable with posting them on an open forum, but I'm sure that you or George (among others) would know of appropriate people to pass the information on to.
    DANGER! DANGER! You are fire fighters. Not psychologists. These tests are meant for professional use, not to be batted around the fire house. ANy FD who is doing the evaluations on their own is opening themselves up to an enormous lawsuit.

    Lawyer: Chief, what is your full-time occupation?
    Chief: Truck driver (or plumber, or stock broker, etc).
    Lawter: Are you a licensed psychologist?
    Chief: No
    Lawyer: Do you have any specialized training in psychology?
    Chief: No
    Lawyer: You reviewed a questionairre that my client completed when he applied to join your FD, is that correct?
    Chief: Yes
    Lawyer: Did you judge him to be unfit for duty because he has a psychological defect?
    Chief: Yes
    Lawyer: And what would that defect be?
    Chief: I think he is prone to setting fires.
    Lawyer: And what professional basis do you have for your opinion?
    Chief: (Dumb, stupid look).
    Chief's lawyer: How many zeroes would like that check to be for?

    You people complain about people doing fire fighters work, leave the psychology to the psychologost.

  10. #10
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    Default Psych!

    George:
    Then should we leave OSHA compliance to the OSHA compliance officers? I guess it comes down to is: when do you want to be sued? By not letting someone on a department because he is a firesetter opens you up to a lawsuit by HIM. Letting him on opens you up to a lawsuit by the VICTIMS who find out that this guy set their fire that killed their young child and you knew that he was a firesetter, but you let him on because you didn't want him suing YOU!
    Let's see; I will roll the dice and won't let him on the department; not because I am a psychologist wannabe but because we "selected a more qualified candidate"! Case closed. We are talking about fire departments that "elect" their new members.
    I don't know, George; it just seems to be getting more and more difficult to CYA.
    IMACOJ-no mental defects here!
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 09-24-2002 at 01:16 PM.

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    Chief;

    These are two entirely different examples. OSHA gives you a set of black and white (sometimes grey) regulations that are published as law and can be followed by reading carefully and asking a few questions.

    Psychology is a profession. There are no black and white situations. It is a science that relies on skill, knowledge and art. That is why we license psychologists and require that they have an advanced degree and attend continuing education.

    OSHA inspectors do not practice art or science. If it says (for example) 2 in and 2 out, then with one exception, it is 2 in and 2 out. There is no room for interpretation or further investigation.

    For example, we had a 14 yoa male who had set a slew of fires. Our Juvenile Firesetter Program uses Mental Health Professionals for our screenings. After conducting a complete and thorough interview, and consultation with a psychologist, this kid was diagnoses with three other disorders that dwarfed his firesetting in importance. This was a critically sick kid who, given time, was going to kill someone. This is exactly why I am not an advocate of fire fighters doing juvenile firesetter evaluations. It took a professional with an advanced degree to recognize the bigger picture and get this kid the help he needed. Someone who runs a coffee shop all day and interviews kids who set fires once in a while at night would most likely not have seen the forest for the trees.

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    Default I resemble that remark!

    George:
    Let's get this down to where a volunteer fire department can do screenings that might recognize a potential problem. How is a department with very limited financial resources going to afford the cost of a full blown psychological evaluation for a potential fire department candidate? I'll answer. How can you afford not to? But in real terms, how can you afford this as well as the pre-employment physical, the pre-employment drug screen, the review by the attorney, the criminal background check, the driving record info, the $1100 for new turnouts? How? Oh, and of course when he/she gets on, then you have six months to kick them off during the probationary period. It is during this time that the candidate decides that they "really don't have the time" with their busy schedule and all. The fire department bank account just went into meltdown. Is there something out there that is affordable that will help?
    On your other subject, juvenile firesetter intervention specialists; I can't seem to catch a break. I took the training to become one along with my three years of behavioral psychology(didn't get my degree, though) and you're saying that it is ineffective when dealing with youth that set fires? You realize that many states have this type of program in place? Was the case that you profiled in your post an anomoly or are you saying that most firesetters have deep psychological deficiencies that make an intervention specialist ineffective? Say, akin to practicing medicine without a license?
    Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to be difficult; just trying to find the answer. I have alot of respect for your intellect. You have identified a problem that I find disturbing, because the weapons that the various states are using to combat a serious national problem appears to be suspect. What should be done absent these programs?
    Thank you for the thought provoking response.
    IMACOJ and former juvenile firesetter intervention specialist.

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    George

    First I am talking about isolating people who have pyromanic tendencies, by isolating that tendency, you have to look at a bigger picture. There is no way that you could create a test that would across the board indicate EVERY pyro. However there are currently tests available that will alert you to specific behavior characteristics. It does not designate someone as a fire setter, and there isn't (as far as I know) a test available that would point the finger to people who would do it for money.

    The kind of test I am talking about is a 'chose the best' answer type of test. The use them for a very wide variety of things. I am going to set up a meeting with a psychiatrist here, that makes these kinds of tests. There isn't any need to analyse anything. If there are four possible answers to chose from a, b, c, with d being the indicator, a candidate who choses "d" has just given you all the information you need.

    I am not talking about tests that require a great amount of time or psych knowledge to go through. Vollie depts don't have the necessary resources to be able to implement something like that. If the test is given to all applicants then as Chief Reason said, I chose people better suited for the job.

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