PCFD Trains For Arson Awareness

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PANAMA CITY-- When a car is on fire, it may not be traffic crash that caused it or a mechanical problem.

The Panama City Fire Department is teaming up with the State Fire Marshall's office to raise arson awareness.

Panama City firefighters strapped on one hundred pounds worth of gear Tuesday morning to put out a fire ten feet away.

The city's fire department partnered with the State Fire Marshal to simulate this vehicle fire to demonstrate how they conduct investigations.

Like most vehicle involved incidents, the city's fire department is first on scene.

"Our investigators will come out and take a look and if they feel like if there's anything to it, they will call the State Fire Marshall," Jimmy Tally, PCFD Division Chief, said.

"On an average case of a vehicle fire, it looks a lot worse than this particular vehicle fire because the Fire Department's not standing by ready to put it out," Kevin Fiedore, State Fire Marshal Captain, said.

Fire officials say the interior is usually completely burned. The seats are down. And any glass is out of the vehicle.

But how do they know if it's arson?

That's when Brandon takes over.

These dogs are trained to detect accelerants. Once they do, they sit, which lets the state fire marshal's office know there are traces of flammable liquids.

"There are some things you look for when you get there. Burn patterns are our number one road track to determine the cause of the fire."

The State Fire Marshal said in 2013, they responded to 59 vehicle fires. Thirty-four of those were determined to be arson cases. Of those, 6 people were arrested.

While this demonstration only lasted a few minutes, a real investigation could take from a few hours to a whole day.

If someone is convicted of arson of a vehicle, they could serve up to 20 years in prison.