Today, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) and Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29) praised the Senate Committee passage of a version of their legislation (S. 1684) aimed to prevent arson across the country. The Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act, will create a comprehensive, nation-wide database for law enforcement to track convicted arsonists. The MATCH Act, introduced by Bono Mack and Schiff last year, already passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. The legislation now continues through the legislative process in the Senate.
"This legislation will provide our law enforcement and fire officials with valuable information that will help them prevent and prosecute criminal arsonists," Bono Mack said. "As we know all too well in California, arson has the power to destroy entire communities and take innocent lives. I am proud that this bill that started as a local idea has gained such overwhelming support in Congress, and I am hopeful that the Senate will continue to move forward with this bill that will help our firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe."
"Arson has caused some of the most destructive fires in California, yet less than 20 percent of arsonists are held accountable for their crime," Schiff said. "The Station Fire in August exemplifies the kind of damage and devastation that arson can cause to both life and property. The MATCH Act, much like a Megan's Law-type registry, will provide valuable tools for law enforcement officials to catch arsonists, prevent additional fires, and keep our communities safe. I commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing this important legislation today, and I look forward to further action on this bill in the Senate."
In 2006, five firefighters lost their lives battling the Esperanza Fire in Southern California, which was caused by arson. This fire affected countless lives and property and destroyed hundreds of square miles of National Forest. In August last year, the Station Fire, which investigators believe to be caused by arson, burned more than 160,000 acres in Los Angeles County and the Angeles National Forest, taking the lives of two brave firefighters.
"A comprehensive database like this will provide for more coordinated and efficient enforcement of arson laws," said Burbank Fire Chief Ray Krakowski. "Our fire department is very much in support of this kind of legislation, and we are thankful to Congressman Schiff for his work on this important issue."
"Today's action by the Senate Judiciary Committee brings us one step closer to establishing a national system to track convicted arsonists and provides our fire investigators with an invaluable tool," said Cathedral City Fire Chief Bill Soqui.
"Any advantage we can get to help track down individuals who cause fire and endanger life and property, we want to have that advantage," said Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. "Congressman Schiff's MATCH Act would be incredibly beneficial in reducing the amount of life and property that are lost each year through arson fires."
"Arsonists endanger the public and Firefighters; the properties they burn not only effect the property owners and occupants, it also places Firefighters in harm's way as they battle a senseless fire that was intentionally started," said Pasadena Fire Chief Dennis J. Downs. "The Fire Service has long awaited legislation that would enable Fire Departments to share information about and track convicted arsonists. H.R. 1727, introduced by Representatives Schiff and Bono Mack, finally fulfills that need. I am proud to say that Congressman Schiff represents more than the people in his district; in introducing H.R. 1727 he also represents the men and women of the Fire Service."