Firebombing – A Hot Issue For Security Managers

    Fire bombingAccording to a report titled Counting the costs of Crime in Australia: A 2011 Estimate by the Australian Institute of Criminology, there were an estimated 44,925 incidents of arson in Australia between 2011 and 2012, resulting in property loss calculated at approximately $971 million. This figure does not include the cost of dealing with arson, which according to the same report, was estimated at around $856 million for fire services alone.


    Despite the incredibly high cost of arson in Australia, there still seems to be some degree of debate with regard to who is ultimately responsible for fire protection within an organisation? Is it the security manager, or is it the venue/facility manager? And while the answer may differ from one organisation to another, what cannot be disputed, especially in light of the previous figures, is the need not just for a fire management plan, but well- crafted fire prevention.



    Arson, as previously illustrated, is a very real danger for a great many businesses and facilities. As a case in point, a database of anti-Semitic incidents in Australia, maintained by AIJAC’s (Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s) Jeremy Jones from October 1, 1989 to September 30 2011, includes 566 incidents of property damage to buildings.


    Some of the more serious incidents include:

    • 1990: one Jewish residential college in Sydney and two synagogues in Melbourne were firebombed, an additional Melbourne synagogue was set on fire.
    • 1991: A number of Jewish institutions were firebombed, including: Jewish Kindergarten in Melbourne; Sephardi Synagogue in Sydney; North Shore Synagogue in Sydney; Bankstown Synagogue in Sydney; and Illawarra Synagogue in South Sydney.
    • 1993: Illawarra Synagogue was again firebombed.
    • 1995: an arson attack was committed at a synagogue in Melbourne.
    • 1998: an explosive device was placed in the mailbox of a synagogue in Sydney, however it failed to detonate.
    • 2000: an explosive device was defused at a synagogue in Bondi. Firebombs were thrown into private residences of rabbis and at synagogues in Canberra and Sydney on numerous occasions.
    • 2006: Attempted arson attack on Mizrachi Synagogue in Bondi, with oil-soaked logs being thrown at the building.


    Arson and firebombing incidents are not limited to Jewish facilities. Such attacks can occur for a variety of reasons and across a diverse range of facilities, as evidenced by the attack earlier this year against the Hamburger Morgenpost, the headquarters of a German newspaper. The attack occurred after the paper printed Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” following the massacre which occurred at the Paris publication.


    According to Swedish anti-racism magazine Expo, there have been more than a dozen arson-related attacks on mosques in Sweden last year. Closer to home, mosques in both Whyalla (South Australia) and Toowoomba (Queensland) were targets of arson attacks just last month. Although police have released CCTV footage to help with their enquiries, would an integrated flame sensor have enabled a quicker response to the incident, rather than trying to identify a suspicious silhouette in a hoodie after the fire has already damaged the building?


    Fire bombing and other such arson-style attacks can cause devastating losses, both to property and life. The question is, short of posting 24 hour-a day guards, which is obviously cost prohibitive for the vast majority of businesses, what can be done to prevent such attacks?


    TAKEX, a Japan based Electro-optical product manufacturer has been offering the highest quality security and industrial automation sensors since 1959.



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    TAKEX produces a range of Ultraviolet Flame detectors which are ideally suited to providing early warning in fire and arson situations. These sensors are designed to immediately detect the ultraviolet (UV) rays contained in flames. They are particularly useful in situations where smoke detection is not a practical option due to wind, environmental smoke (from diesel engine rooms), and so on. Other common flame detection applications include laboratories and manufacturing facilities where open flames could cause catastrophic outcomes. In essence, these sensors ‘look’ for flames. In fact, according to Tom Kinkade of TAKEX, “some of the TAKEX sensors can be configured to detect the lighting of a cigarette within 0.2 seconds in indoor environments”.

    TAKEX UV Flame detection sensors have recently been adopted and installed at a number of high profile sites, including:


    Japan Rail – Sensors installed in restrooms, to detect the lighting of cigarettes and prevent damage to restrooms at JR stations.

    Namseoul University, Korea – Over 1,100 sensors were installed throughout the University with a view to both preventing smoking, and increasing laboratory safety.


    Lithium Battery Manufacturing Facility (JAPAN) – A prominent manufacturer of lithium batteries hybrid vehicles installed TAKEX UV Flame sensors throughout their manufacturing plant.


    Japan Highway Bus Service – Sensors installed in highway buses to detect smoking in the restroom of the bus.

    “The fire prevention and life safety applications of the TAKEX UV flame sensors are infinite,” states Kinkade. “Imagine a situation where an occupant is working on the secured side of a door with no view to the outside – for example, in a warehouse or office building. In such a situation, if someone were to throw a Molotov cocktail on the unsecured side of the door, how would they know about the danger outside? Alternatively, if a person was to set a piece of cardboard alight at a bin at a loading dock, what would be the risk to the facility if the response was delayed until traditional smoke alarms were triggered?” asks Kinkade. “This situation could be even worse if the wind is blowing smoke away from the sensor.”

    “If we take the examples mentioned earlier in the article, involving schools or cultural organisations that have experienced arson or ‘fire bombing’, we can see how the integration of UV Flame sensors into traditional systems – such as CCTV and alarms – could potentially enable such threats to be identified and managed before significant damage occurs. Much more rapidly than through other more traditional means.”

    “Detecting and responding rapidly to potentially life threatening and highly costly arson situations does not need to be difficult or expensive,” explains Kinkade. “We can, and have, successfully integrated our UV Flame sensors into a wide variety of existing systems to provide added functionality.”

    From a fire detection and prevention point of view, the question is not whether one can afford to invest in such early warning technology, but rather, can you afford not to?


    For more information about the full range of TAKEX UV flame sensors, visit or call +61 3 9544 2477