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Preventing Arson at Houses of Worship

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According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ U.S. Bomb Data Center’s Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS), there have been an average of 103 arson fires per year at houses of worship reported by federal, state and local agencies during the 16-year period from 2000 to 2015.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that the 2007 to 2011 annual averages for structure fires in religious properties (church, mosque, synagogue, temple or chapel) are 1,600 fires with two civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.

Course Objectives:

After completing the webinar, attendees should be able to identify:

  • The three factors included in an arson prevention program.
  • The five required steps to establish a Community Arson Watch program.
  • The most common motives associated with arson.

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About the Presenters:

Timothy O’Dowd – Arson Program Specialist

O’Dowd is an Arson Program Specialist for the U.S. Fire Administration which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and under the umbrella of the U.S> Department of Homeland Security. O’Dowd has managed Arson Awareness Week – a national public education campaign to focus attention on the horrific crime of arson since 1996. He also directs the USFA’s Campus Fire Safety initiative, Novelty & Toylike Lighter program and developed the initial Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialist Curriculum at the National Fire Academy. He managed the President’s National Arson Prevention Initiative under President Clinton and was the FEMA representative on the National Church Arson Task Force along with the ATF, FBI, HUD and DOJ during the Clinton Administration. Tim is also a professional sports and wildlife photographer.

Seth Graybill – Certified Fire Investigator for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Graybill has been a Certified Fire Investigator for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for more than a decade. Graybill is assigned to the National Fire Academy where he provides instruction for the Fire/Arson and Explosion Investigation Curriculum. Graybill continues to conduct fire investigations for the Philadelphia Field Division and serves on ATF National Response Team (NRT). Seth is an active member of the International Association of Arson Investigators and the Pennsylvania Association of Arson Investigators.

Salam Al-Marayati - President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

Al-Marayati is the President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and has been nationally recognized for his commitment to improving the public understanding of Islam and policies impacting American Muslims. He is an expert on Islam in the West, Muslim reform movements, human rights, democracy, national security, and Middle East politics. He has spoken at the White House, Capitol Hill and represented the U.S. at international human rights and religious freedom conferences. Al-Marayati will provide a Faith Leader’s Perspective on this year’s Arson Awareness Week.


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