Australia — Heading into this years’ northern fire season, there’s an extra 15 arson investigators in the Northern Territory.
The extra personnel was announced yesterday to coincide with the start of the dry season, along with extra fire equipment for some local brigades in the Top End.
Peter van Boxtel, from the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service, says there are now over 30 bushfire investigators in the NT to help track down arsonists and get convictions.
He says information from the general public is crucial.
“Sometimes it’s hard to prove arson, but if we have a lot of information, then we can do a lot with it.
“For instance, last year Bushfires NT prosecuted someone for the major fire at Dundee and got a conviction.
“So it is possible and we can do it, but we need as much information as we can get and we need the help of everyone out there to take down the information.
“Our catch-cry is ‘if you see something, know something, then say something’, call Crime Stoppers (1800 333 000) and they’ll get back to us and we’ll be able to investigate from there.”
The NT’s Land Resource Management Minister, Willem Westra van Holthe, says his government will not tolerate arsonists.
“We will crack down hard on people lighting fires when they shouldn’t be,” he said.
“If people are caught lighting fires deliberately, the full weight of the law will be thrown behind the prosecution of those people.”
The Bushfires Act 2009 says you “must not set fire or cause fire to be set to land or property belonging to any other person under such circumstances as to cause or be likely to cause damage to that other person or that land or property”.
Maximum penalty for failure to comply is a $25,000 fine or imprisonment for five years.
The Minister is also reminding landholders that it’s a legal requirement to prepare their properties for the bushfire season.