Fire Prevention Unit VI and VII: “Arson Motives”

Arson is a separate topic in fire prevention analysis and should be analyzed from different perspectives due to the involvement of the human factor in this process. Arson as the “malicious and willful burning of the house of another” (“Arson,” 2007) will be discussed in this paper, and specifically the motives behind committing arson.

The reasons behind committing arson are usually varied in different kinds of literature due to the different meanings and backgrounds of that action. Whether it is damaging one house, own house, or property, in general, in the basis lays the act of intentional setting of fire to damage property or life. The mental illness cannot be assumed as a contributing factor, even if the arsonist was mentally ill, at least it is one of many other factors. In general, the common factors could be as following:

  • revenge;
  • thrill or a way to escape boredom;
  • vandalism;
  • attention-seeking, for help or recognition;
  • financial gain, including insurance fraud and for other business purposes;
  • crime concealment, often to remove physical evidence;
  • political, as a form of protest or as a weapon of terror;
  • no apparent motive, possibly under the influence of a mental illness;
  • mixed or unclear, where fire may achieve several purposes or the motive is not apparent;
  • Child fire setting. (Motives for arson, 2004, p.4)

The arson committed by children should differ from the committed by adults, as this behavior can be prevented. The common characteristics of such children are troubled family, absence of one or both parents, and ignorance and abuse. If the factors which resulted in the child setting fire will be understood, more serious complications in the future could be avoided.

Works Cited

Motives for committing arson. (pp. 4-5). (2004). In BushFIRE Arson Bulletin. Bushfire CRC.

Arson. (2007). In The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. Web.

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