EDMONTON – It may be more common than you think for a firefighter to be accused of arson says Edmonton criminologist Bill Pitt.
“We actually see this quite often with firefighters,” Pitt said. “It’s not uncommon in the firefighting fraternity, especially with the rural firefighters, but not exclusively… I’m not surprised by it.”
Pitt spoke with Global News on Sunday, one day after a volunteer firefighter in Mayerthorpe was arrested and charged with 18 counts of arson.
Without referencing the Mayerthorpe case specifically, Pitt said there are typically three main motives behind arsons.
Some people find pleasure in setting and/or watching a fire burn, said Pitt, who described it as a “psycho-sexual component.”
In such cases, investigators will often examine the individual’s past, looking for other troubling behaviour, including animal abuse.
Conflict in department
”They want to be the one that discovers who did this. So there’s a little bit of self promotion that can occur: ‘I’m going to be the first one who calls it in. I’m going to show everyone how much initiative I have, how smart I am.’”
Pitt said he’s sad to see another heartbreaking event in Mayerthorpe. “It’s a hard-luck town and they really don’t need this sort of thing going on in the background.”
“Of course we all know what happened with the Mounted Police there,” he added, referring to March 3, 2005, when James Roszko shot and killed four RCMP constables while they were executing a search warrant on a farm outside the town. “It’s a town that needs to heal, and it’s going to take a generation or two to heal and something like this doesn’t help that process.”
“It was a quick resolution, and the police did a good job.”