Fire - when misused

According to the proverb, fire is a good servant but a bad master. However, fire employed by a bad man, can be a bad servant.

Despite the often brilliant forensic analyses into the criminal use of fire, called arson, such cases are probably involved in the highest percentage of all unsolved crimes. It needs to be understood, though, that arson is not always the primary crime but may be used to conceal or camouflage another crime, such as robbery or murder.

At times when the national economy is experiencing a downturn, and businesses are in danger of bankruptcy, there tends to be a rash of suspicious insurance claims made after fires have damaged or destroyed property. Destruction of business records, to avoid audits or evade taxation, or even to eliminate a competitor by torching his business increase at such times. However, detective work into the financial status of affected businesses is given first priority and has a good rate of success in solving criminal cases.

Another category of criminal has a mental or emotional basis for committing arson and it has three branches. The first is revenge, and may be a disgruntled employee, or customer, or a spurned lover. Then there are the thrill seekers, usually a group of youths under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The third of these emotionally-motivated types is the pyromaniac, and is a particular danger to everyone in Tasmania.

There is, however, a potential firebug who is not considered to be a criminal, yet may prove just as disastrous. This is the ordinary person who thoughtlessly throws his lighted cigarette butt from the window of his car instead of using its ashtray. That ought to be treated as a crime and incur a substantial penalty!

Smouldering cigarette butts can unnecessarily disrupt services by triggering fire alarms and warning systems but have also been blamed for bushfires resulting in major property damage and deaths.

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