Florida Fire Marshal Turns up Heat on Thieves Stealing Fire Equipment

April 8, 2008

Florida officials arrested two men in connection with the theft of meters on fire department sprinkler backflows throughout Broward and Dade counties, according to Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

A multi-agency investigation, including the Plantation Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, led to the arrest of Brian Williams, 30, charged with six counts of grand theft, six counts of tampering with fire equipment, and one count of violating probation. Kevin Durkin, 48, is charged with four counts of grand theft and four counts of tampering with fire equipment.

The investigation was prompted by surveillance video from a Target store, obtained by the Plantation Fire Department and handed over to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, showing Williams removing fire protection equipment. Williams, previously employed by a fire equipment company that installed fire protection devices, wore his former employer’s uniform to avoid suspicion by a Hollywood scrap metal recycler accepting the brass meters. Another subject, Durkin, was identified, and stole 19 meters on the first day of surveillance. The meters bring $7 to $10 each, but cost businesses up to $1500 to replace.

Fire sprinkler backflows provide essential water to sprinkler systems in commercial buildings, a life-saving resource in the event of a fire emergency.

“This is a national epidemic,” said Les Hallman, Division Director of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. “If anyone is out there is still thinking they can make a quick buck by stealing fire equipment, they better be prepared to serve some serious time—we’re on to them.”

Source: Florida Fire Marshal’s Office

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