Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson

Rebekah M. Doley, Kenneth Fineman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Extract:
Perhaps more than most crimes, the crime of arson is often shrouded in anecdotal descriptions concerning what actually motivates the offender. Arson in any form is repugnant, but even more so when the individual involved is a serving member of the fire service. Fire department personnel and the community alike abhor incidents of this nature. Although the incidence of fire-fighter arson is low in comparison with the total number of currently serving fire-fighters, the impact on community faith and fire service morale is disproportionately great. The integrity of the service is demonstrated in the performance of its personnel. While the service operates with full accountability, the very public nature of its business and the high visibility of its staff create unique problems for management. One of these is the amount of media attention (representing the ’public’s right to know’) the activities of the service and its individual members can expect, when something particularly newsworthy occurs, such as the detection of a fire-fighter arsonist within the ranks of current serving officers. On these occasions it is safe to assume that much of the good work that preceded the incident, and certainly some of it that follows, will be lost in media frenzy to focus on the one case in which someone did something they should not have done.
This chapter focuses on the notion of power and excitement as mediators of fire setting in the context of a special case of arson: fire setting fire-fighters. The discussion opens with an overview of the common typology of motives and an explanation of where fire-fighter arson fits within this classification. Subsequently, the concept of power, and sometimes excitement, as driving the behaviour is addressed and examples from case studies are provided to illustrate the core concepts. The chapter concludes with consideration of implications of this proposal for the selection and screening of fire-fighters.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFiresetting and mental health
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, research and practice
EditorsG L Dickens, P A Sugerman, T A Gannon
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoyal College of Psychiatrists
Pages142-162
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781908020376
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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incident
personnel
fire department
offense
community
faith
integrity
offender
typology
incidence
staff
responsibility
management
performance

Cite this

Doley, R. M., & Fineman, K. (2012). Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson. In G. L. Dickens, P. A. Sugerman, & T. A. Gannon (Eds.), Firesetting and mental health: Theory, research and practice (pp. 142-162). London : Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Doley, Rebekah M. ; Fineman, Kenneth. / Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson. Firesetting and mental health: Theory, research and practice. editor / G L Dickens ; P A Sugerman ; T A Gannon. London : Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2012. pp. 142-162
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Doley, RM & Fineman, K 2012, Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson. in GL Dickens, PA Sugerman & TA Gannon (eds), Firesetting and mental health: Theory, research and practice. Royal College of Psychiatrists, London , pp. 142-162.

Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson. / Doley, Rebekah M.; Fineman, Kenneth.

Firesetting and mental health: Theory, research and practice. ed. / G L Dickens; P A Sugerman; T A Gannon. London : Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2012. p. 142-162.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

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AB - Extract:Perhaps more than most crimes, the crime of arson is often shrouded in anecdotal descriptions concerning what actually motivates the offender. Arson in any form is repugnant, but even more so when the individual involved is a serving member of the fire service. Fire department personnel and the community alike abhor incidents of this nature. Although the incidence of fire-fighter arson is low in comparison with the total number of currently serving fire-fighters, the impact on community faith and fire service morale is disproportionately great. The integrity of the service is demonstrated in the performance of its personnel. While the service operates with full accountability, the very public nature of its business and the high visibility of its staff create unique problems for management. One of these is the amount of media attention (representing the ’public’s right to know’) the activities of the service and its individual members can expect, when something particularly newsworthy occurs, such as the detection of a fire-fighter arsonist within the ranks of current serving officers. On these occasions it is safe to assume that much of the good work that preceded the incident, and certainly some of it that follows, will be lost in media frenzy to focus on the one case in which someone did something they should not have done.This chapter focuses on the notion of power and excitement as mediators of fire setting in the context of a special case of arson: fire setting fire-fighters. The discussion opens with an overview of the common typology of motives and an explanation of where fire-fighter arson fits within this classification. Subsequently, the concept of power, and sometimes excitement, as driving the behaviour is addressed and examples from case studies are provided to illustrate the core concepts. The chapter concludes with consideration of implications of this proposal for the selection and screening of fire-fighters.

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BT - Firesetting and mental health

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Doley RM, Fineman K. Power and excitement in arson: The case of firefighter arson. In Dickens GL, Sugerman PA, Gannon TA, editors, Firesetting and mental health: Theory, research and practice. London : Royal College of Psychiatrists. 2012. p. 142-162