LIVINGSTON — Authorities arrested two volunteer firefighters and a third teen in connection with 11 arsons that caused more than $100,000 in damage, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said Friday.
They apparently wanted the thrill of fighting fires, Browning said of the suspects, who all had connections at one time or another to Livingston Parish Fire District 6.
The fires were set in the Livingston and Holden areas at locations including unoccupied structures, trash bins and a backhoe, Browning said.
The fire marshal said his office worked with the Livingston Police Department in arresting Adam Church, 17, on 11 counts of simple arson; Colin Davis, 18, on four counts of simple arson; and Thomas Golder, 18, on two counts of simple arson.
Some of the cases occurred while Church was still a juvenile, but he was booked with all 11 cases, leaving it to the District Attorney’s Office to determine how to deal with Church’s age at the times the fires were set, Browning said.
Convictions for the crime of simple arson carry sentences of up to five years in prison for each case, the fire marshal said.
Livingston Police Chief Randy Dufrene said that after his department gained information about the arson activity, he contacted Fire Chief Kirby Duffy and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Davis and Golder were volunteer firefighters and Church had been associated with the Fire Department through its junior firefighter program, Duffy said.
Kirby said he was particularly surprised at the actions of the two volunteers, who immediately were suspended from duty when their alleged illegal activity became known.
Browning said that while the 15,000 firefighters in Louisiana are law abiding, his office has arrested 30 of them during the past four years in connection with arson incidents.
“They are not worthy of wearing the uniform,” he said of firefighters who become arsonists.
Usually, such cases involve both the thrill of being able to “use the equipment and drive the truck” as well as feeling like a hero, Browning said.
Those cases seldom involve inhabited buildings, but still pose a danger to people’s lives as firetrucks go to the fires and firefighters fight the blazes, he said.
Such arson fires often damage property that has value and also pose the danger of spreading, particularly during dry periods, Browning said.
Fortunately, no accidents or major spreading occurred in any of the 11 fires that led to the arrests of Church, Davis and Golder, he said.
Browning said he doesn’t think the three had any intention of hurting anyone.