Mid-Michigan firefighters attend arson school

Mid-Michigan firefighters trading in their turnout gear for pens and notebooks.

â??There is a fire problem in Michigan,â?? says Bob Beck, a fire investigator in Bay City. â??Just like today, we're learning about meth labs which is (sic) a big issue,â?? adds Beck.

â??Arson is a very big problem,â?? agrees Art Schrah.

Fire investigators like Art Schrah and Bob Beck are getting a refresher course on how to fight arsons and other fires.

â??Itâ??s also a big danger to police officers responding to it. Not only that, but to the neighbors next door if it spreads to their house,â?? says Schrah who investigates fires in Oakland County.

The fire investigators say courses like this help investigators stay ahead of the game.

â??Itâ??s a yearly program that we can learn new techniques or anything that's out there to help us investigate fires,â?? says Beck.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Flint leads the nation in arsons per capita.

â??It seems like the perennial problem areas is Saginaw, Flint, Pontiac, Detroit,â?? says Mike Jenkinson, president of the Michigan chapter of arson investigators.

A new state law, introduced by state representative Stacy Erwin Oakes of Saginaw, looks to crackdown on arsons.

â??It provides for stiffer penalties for arsons and related offenses and I think the ultimate goal there is deterrent,â?? says Jenkinson.

These firefighters hope tougher laws, updated training and community involvement will help put out the flames of arson.

â??Be vigilant, report suspicious activity,â?? says Jenkinson.