Arson is defined as the crime of any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, a dwelling, house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, or personal property of another. Arson has been the leading cause of fires in Edmonton for the last 12 years. It accounts for roughly one-third of all working fires that Edmonton firefighters respond to annually.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is working with all levels of government, community groups, business leaders, municipal departments, other fire services, Mental Health and Health Care groups, Police Agencies and the public to partner together to reduce arson in our community.
Arson affects all of us in one form or another, financially or emotionally. By working together we will ensure greater success in making our city a safer community where we can all work, play and enjoy our families.
Edmontonians are an important partner in preventing arson in our city and can help prevent arson from taking place by:
- Becoming familiar with your neighbours
- Watching out for each other’s properties, especially when away on vacation
- Writing down license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles and getting descriptions of suspicious persons to report to Edmonton Police Services
- Encouraging Neighbourhood Watch members to patrol their respective communities to locate abandoned homes and buildings and report these to City Officials
- Cleaning up your property and yards of materials that an arsonist could use to start a fire, such as piles of brush, garbage, used furniture or old vehicles.
- Clean up the neighbourhood by removing garbage, flammable liquids, gasoline containers and abandoned vehicles
- Secure the doors, windows or other openings located in abandoned homes and buildings
At Places of Worship
Congregations can reduce the potential for arson by:
- Installing motion sensors to illuminate the exterior of the building and entrances
- Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed especially around windows and entrances so that passing patrols can have an unobstructed visual of the building
- Ensuring that there are proper lock up procedures
- Limiting the number of congregation members who have keys or access codes
- Installing security systems
- Considering hiring a private security firm to frequently patrol the building and grounds
- Keeping congregation members informed of problems
- Appointing a member to be a liaison with Fire and Police Agencies
- Promoting Neighborhood Watch Programs
Learn safety tips that can help schools prevent arson from taking place on the Preventing Arson at School page.
In the Workplace
Build arson prevention strategies into your Risk Management and Fire Safety Procedures by:
- Completing an annual Arson inspection of your business and site
- Removing or reducing the targets for arson, such as piles of debris on the premises
- Reviewing your lock-up procedures and house keeping practices.
- Increasing security with measures such as video cameras, motion sensor lighting, monitored security systems, as well as swipe card or code entry accesses for managers and employees
Smoking Materials Fires
Every year, fires started by cigarettes or other smoking materials occur in Edmonton. These fires not only cause millions of dollars in damage, they also needlessly risk lives. In some cases, lives have been lost.
Regardless of how they start, they are almost always preventable. Smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smoulder undetected for days before igniting a fire. These fires can start when plant pots are used as ashtrays or cigarette butts are carelessly thrown on the ground.
Citizens who smoke can help Edmonton Fire Rescue Services protect life, property and the environment by always using an ashtray to extinguish their cigarettes:
- Always extinguish smoking materials in deep, non-combustible ashtrays
- Make sure that matches and cigarette butts in ashtrays are wet before you put them in a garbage container
- Never extinguish smoking materials in plant pots
- Never discard smoking materials on the ground
- Keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of the reach of children
In addition to being a fire hazard, throwing a cigarette on the ground is considered littering and subject to a $250 fine. If you wish to quit smoking, contact the Smokers' Hotline at 1-866-332-2322 or visit Alberta Quits for more information.
If your child has misused fire, deliberately started a fire or if you are concerned about your child’s interest in fire, there are resources to help youth understand that “playing with fire” is very dangerous. Call our Fire Prevention Office (contact information below) and ask about the Youth Firesetter Intervention, Referral and Education Services (Y-FIRES).
There is also information available on the Arson Prevention Program for Children website.
Fire Summit III
Edmonton Fire Services began holding fire summits every two years as part of ongoing efforts to engage with the public to prevent fires and promote fire safety in Edmonton.
The goal for Fire Summit III was to raise awareness of how arson affects our community and to develop creative strategies to address the issue.