With the peak of Summer just around the corner state government and emergency services have joined forces to stamp out arson this bushfire season.
At a press conference on Monday police minister Michelle Roberts joined officer in charge of the arson squad, detective senior sergeant Nick Fucile and Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) – Metropolitan Operations acting assistant commissioner Brad Delavale to launch a team of police officers with arsonists in their sights, called Strike Force Vulcan.
Strike Force Vulcan was first introduced in 2010.
The force will see a dedicated team led by senior detectives from the WA Police Force Arson Squad who work in close collaboration with DFES and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to prevent and investigate bushfire arson.
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The taskforce will work seven days a week over the duration of the bushfire season, to provide a rapid investigative response to any suspicious fire across the metropolitan area.
Officers will also patrol arson hotspots and use covert and overt surveillance to keep an eye on known firebugs.
Arson is a serious offence and in Western Australia the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
Deliberate fires place an enormous financial burden on the community.
They have the potential to kill and injure people and animals, and destroy homes and animal habitats.
There were 446 deliberately lit or suspicious bushfires in the past bushfire season.
Strike Force Vulcan investigators charged a total of 10 arsonists.
Last bushfire season 41 juveniles were issued with cautions and referred to the Juvenile and Family Fire Awareness Program.
Minister Roberts said it was shaping up as a busy time for firefighters, with very hot conditions forecast over the summer months.
“The last thing we want is lives being put in danger by the malicious and reckless actions of arsonists,” she said.
“Those who put the lives of Western Australians needlessly at risk, through irresponsible and criminal behaviour, deserve to feel the full weight of the law.
“Police are doing their bit, but I also want to encourage residents to take control and report any suspicions this fire season.”
All Western Australians are urged to prepare their home and property for this bushfire season. For more information, visit emergency.wa.gov.au/prepare.
- In a life threatening emergency, including where smoke can be seen in bushland areas, call 000.
- To report suspicious activity call 131 444.
- Anyone with information regarding bushfires and arsonists is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au
There are significant rewards on offer for information that leads to the identification and conviction of an arsonist.
Police urge anyone with information to come forward and protect your community from the devastation that deliberately lit bushfires can cause.
Any member of the community with information that can assist with investigations into arson is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000