BLOOMINGTON, Ill., May 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Interagency Fire Center reported 68,151 wildfires in the United States last year, scorching more than 10 million acres of land. A staggering 86%, more than 59,000 wildfires, were caused by people, whether intentional or as a result of human negligence. As the largest property and casualty insurer in the country, State Farm is actively working with organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to educate the general public about arson, provide law enforcement with tools necessary to investigate crime, and help communities prepare for wildfires. Prevent Wildfire Arson – Spread the Facts Not the Fire is the theme for 2016 Arson Awareness Week (May 1-7, 2016).
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When battling a wildfire, firefighters must utilize a variety of resources at different stages of the fire to ensure the fire is out and the threat is eliminated. Fighting arson is no different and State Farm is committed to helping to provide the necessary resources so that communities are educated and prepared for a fire.
Providing Education and Grants to Help Communities Prepare for Wildfire
For the third year, State Farm is sponsoring National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 7, 2016) with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) by providing $500 grants to 125 projects that reduce wildfire risk, advance general wildfire preparedness, and minimize post-fire impact. The 2016 National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Recipients are individuals and groups of all ages from 36 states.
Top 5 states for wildfires in 2015
- Texas - 9,272 wildland fires that burned 184,418 acres
- California - 8,745 wildland fires that burned 893,362 acres
- North Carolina - 3,828 wildland fires that burned 15,220 acres
- Alabama - 3,198 wildland fires that burned 47,380 acres
- Missouri - 3,161 wildland fires that burned 29,893 acres
Training the Best Noses to Sniff Out Arson
As the nation´s largest homeowner insurer, State Farm is well aware of the severity and impact of arson on businesses and public safety. To help law enforcement and fire investigators find evidence of arson and serve as a deterrent for future arsonists, State Farm began funding the acquisition and training of accelerant detection canine teams in 1993. Since that time, the State Farm Arson Dog Program has placed more than 360 teams in communities across the United States and Canada. Because canines have a superior ability to discriminate among scents, an accelerant detection canine can investigate a fire efficiently, providing invaluable assistance to investigators when it comes to locating potential evidence of arson.
Donating Vehicles to Police and Fire Departments for Arson Investigations
Many fire departments lack the necessary vehicles to efficiently and effectively investigate fires. This proves to be particularly difficult when departments are in rural jurisdictions. State Farm works with the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program to donate vehicles to police and fire departments so arson investigators can safely travel to fire scenes.
Recycled Rides is a community service program in which members of the National Auto Body Council collaborate to repair vehicles donated by insurance, rental car, salvage and auto auction companies to individuals and service organizations. Since 2007, over 1,000 vehicles have been donated by through the Recycled Rides program.
To raise awareness about the problem of arson and improve the ability of police and fire departments to investigate fires in rural and wild land areas, State Farm and Recycled Rides have already or will be donating vehicles to the following departments:
- New Bern Fire and Rescue in North Carolina for use by Fire Marshal Danny Hill and K9 Darby. Vehicle repairs and modifications were made by Caliber Collision in Raleigh, NC.
- Eastern Sierra Arson Task Force for use by Fire Investigator Jeff Schwing and K9 Remington throughout southeast California. Vehicle repairs and modifications were made by Caliber Collision in Fresno, CA.
- Ocala Fire Department in Florida for use by Roseanne Moreland and K9 Gracie. Vehicle repairs and modifications were made by Jenkins Collision Center in Ocala, FL.
- Maine Specialty Dogs for use by trainer Nicole Dyer to transport arson dogs to training. Vehicle repairs and modifications were made by Gerber Collision & Glass in Elkhart, IN.
- Beaver Falls Fire Department in Pennsylvania will receive a vehicle later this summer for use by Fire Investigator David Seidl and K9 Patty. Vehicle repairs and modifications are being made by Scotsman's Collision in Mt. Sinai, NY.
- State Farm grant for $9,850 to the Fire Investigative Strike Team of Fresno County (F.I.S.T.) to help purchase a vehicle for Fire Investigator Lee Wilding and K9 Tessa in central California.
About State Farm
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 82 million policies and accounts – nearly 80 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 41 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.
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SOURCE State Farm