The Arson Watch Reward Program, sponsored by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association (MPIUA) and the Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association (RIJRA) on behalf of all property and casualty insurance companies licensed to write business in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, was formally established on November 18, 1981. It was one of the first programs sponsored by any group to advocate for an active public response to the senseless incidence of arson related fires on behalf of the insurance industry. Initially the Program focused on the Tip Award Program and the education of fire departments, arson squads and police departments on how to investigate suspicious fires. Over time, the Program has grown to include fire prevention, education, juvenile fire prevention training and similar activities. We sponsor and collaborate with numerous programs, groups and events in both states. A few of these programs are described below:
Tip Award Program:
The program provides monetary rewards to individuals who provide information to law enforcement resulting in the arrest and conviction of the responsible parties. Over the course of the Program, more than 200 communities have participated in the Arson Tip Award Program. In Massachusetts, a Reward Selection Committee, comprised of a representative from the Office of the Attorney General, Commissioner of Insurance, MA State Police and two representatives of the Property Insurance Industry, reviews all nominations and makes the final decision in granting rewards. In Rhode Island, this Committee is comprised of a representative from the Department of Public Safety-State Fire Marshal, Department of Business Regulation Insurance Division, Fire Chiefs Association and Police Chiefs Association. Any member may recuse him/herself for good reason. All individual rewards are granted based on the amount of information that is given and the extent of assistance the information provides in solving an arson crime, with a maximum of $5,000. Forty-five percent of reward recipients agree to a public presentation with media coverage. * Nominations for rewards must be made on the Reward Application. No Reward Application will be considered until after an indictment has been made.
* Public presentations are not mandatory. This decision is left up to the recipient.
Accelerant and Explosive Detection Canines:
MPIUA has supported for the last 20+ years the securing and training of the Accelerant and Explosive Detection Canines and their handlers. Under the Department of Fire Services, the Fire & Explosion Investigation Section (F&EIS) has six accelerant detection dogs working with State Police fire investigators and eight explosives detection dogs working with State Police bomb technicians assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Each K9 team is trained by the MA State Police in conjunction with the CT State Police utilizing the food reward method. Because the dogs must work to eat, the handlers train with them every single day. The dogs also live with their handlers and their families, even after they retire from duty. Each K9 team is able to respond around the clock to assist investigators anywhere in the state at any fire or explosion incident. They can help detect potential evidence of arson or malicious use of explosives.
YouTube™ High School Burn Awareness Video Contest:
Fitting with our mission of reducing fires in the Commonwealth and the damage they do to life, property and communities, the MPIUA has been co-sponsoring this contest with State Fire Marshal and the MA Association of Safety and Fire Educators. The contest, open to Massachusetts students in grades 9-12, is used to explore burn prevention and safety topics for educational and informative purposes.
Annual Fire and Life Safety Education Conference:
The MPIUA and the Arson Watch Reward Program supports this annual conference bringing together fire and life safety educators, classroom teachers, and people who work with elders to learn, network and advance the safety of Massachusetts citizens. Nominations are made for the Public Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award, which is presented at this Conference. This award recognizes individuals or teams for their commitment to making our world safer from fire and other preventable injuries. The FAIR Plan provides educational materials at this annual event.
Annual Fire Safety Poster Contest:
The annual Arson Watch Reward Program Poster Contest is sponsored by the MPIUA and the RIJRA, on behalf of all property and casualty insurance companies of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The poster theme is “Fire Prevention – Everyone/Everyday”.
In Rhode Island, the contest is held on two levels – Level 1 for 5th and 6th grade students and Level 2 for 7th and 8th grade students. All public, private and parochial schools in Rhode Island are invited to participate. First, second and third place winners are chosen in each level by an impartial panel of judges. An award ceremony is held in honor of all winning students.
In Massachusetts, a Countywide contest is held for all students in grades 6-8. First and second place county winners are chosen by an impartial panel of judges. All first place county winners are entered into the Massachusetts Statewide Contest. An award ceremony is held in honor of all county winners at which time the three state winners are announced and presented with their awards.