Saginaw needs volunteers for annual Arson Watch patrol - WNEM TV 5

Saginaw needs volunteers for annual Arson Watch patrol

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Volunteers are needed to take part in Saginaw's annual Arson Watch.

The city said neighborhood associations are looking for people to work with police officers, firefighters and other departments on Oct. 30 through Oct. 31 to help prevent intentionally set fires.

Arson Watch teams patrol assigned neighborhoods by vehicle from dusk to dawn. Other volunteer teams walk neighborhoods, looking out for suspicious activities.

The city said patrols will focus on monitoring abandoned buildings and other areas that statistically have higher crime rates. Volunteers will be provided with Arson Watch T-shirts, flashlights, flashing lights for their vehicles and patrol training.

Those interested in volunteering should contact their area Neighborhood Association president to register. 

The fire chief said they went from having 17 fires in 2006 on devil's night to zero and it's all thanks to the arson watch.

"It's not in anger, but just part of the celebration of Halloween. But it's a very serious thing, costs the city a lot of money when there's an abandoned house that's been burned down," said Nancy Burdick, arson watch volunteer.

Saginaw Fire Chief Chris Vanloo said they started the program over a decade ago after things began to spiral out of control.

"2006 we had 17 arson fires that night over that period of devil's night and Halloween, since then we've seen a decline since the program started," Vanloo said.

Burdick broke down how the program works.

"You are to drive with someone else. You have to have a phone. You are to have a flashlight also. So one person navigates and the other one does the looking out. You can go anywhere in the city, especially where there are abandoned buildings," Burdick said.

If you see something, that's when you call police.

Vanloo said there's no doubt in his mind the program is effective.

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