City of Austin Performance Report 2015-16

Percent of Arson Cases Cleared by Arrest 

Measure Description
This measure shows the Austin Fire Department’s success in clearing arson cases by arrest. This measure was created to accurately determine fire causes to prevent the loss of life and property. Arson is the willful, malicious, intentional and/or reckless burning of property. The Investigations Division identifies and prosecutes individuals involved in fire-related criminal activity. Through extensive analysis, AFD Arson Investigators determine if a fire is an arson case.
Calculation Method
Austin Fire Department Arson Investigators determine whether a fire incident was set intentionally (arson incident), establish who started the fire (the suspect), and seek to arrest the suspect. This measure is calculated by determining the number of arson fire incidents with arrests divided by the total number of arson cases within the city of Austin.
FY 2015-16 Results
During FY 2015-16, AFD cleared 42 percent of arson cases by arrest, which exceeded the goal of 40%.
Assessment of Results
In FY 2015-16, there were 132 arson fires. Due to the arrest of a serial arsonist in 2013, multiple cases were cleared in FY 2012-13 and FY 2013-14, resulting in a high percentage of arson cases cleared by arrest. The Austin Fire Department consistently exceeds the national percentage of arson cases cleared by arrest, which ranges from 18 to 21 percent.
Next Steps
Investigators began using tablets in FY 2015-16, which helped to improve the efficiency of operations. Using tablets to collect investigation data improves turn-around time on report completion, allows more time for the investigators to conduct follow-up interviews, and gets report information to shift investigators much quicker than the previous process, which involved hand-written notes and forms that had to be transcribed before they became available. 
For FY 2016-17, tablets will continue to be used because of their positive impact on efficiency.
Contact Information
For more information, contact Rob Vires, Division Chief, (512) 974-0311.