Warrants don't suggest motive behind Robeson County firefighters arson accusation


We obtained 46 pages of warrants against 10 firefighters suspected of setting dozens of fires in Robeson County to learn new details about the crimes, but the warrants don't suggest a possible motive or provide any additional information.

The Robeson County Sheriff's Office arrested 10 volunteer firefighters Tuesday on 90 arson related charges.

Deputies said they set fires at abandoned houses and wooded areas in the past year in the Fairmont community.

Many people have a lot of questions, including why a firefighter would want to start a fire. They question if it had to do with money, but the Robeson County Fire Marshal said the volunteer firefighters charged in the crimes didn't get paid for setting the fires.

North Carolina State Firefighters' Association Executive Director Tim Bradley said in most cases, volunteer firefighters set fires for the love of firefighting.

"Most of the time, right, when you have volunteer firefighters, young volunteer firefighters, that are associated with unlawful burning or arson. It's an issue of giving them something to do. Drive the truck. Fight the fire. An adrenaline issue. And then all of a sudden, he begins to think this old barn over here, it really wouldn't hurt anybody, if I burned it, you know, I could be the first to drive the truck. That's sort of the evolution of that occurs. I don't think it's a criminal intent. As much as it is the intent of to do something exciting and be able to put it out, hence the vacant buildings they were burning. If they were burning occupied buildings, it would be more of a criminal intent," said Bradley.

Bradley also said background checks aren't required for volunteer firefighters, but the individual fire departments can conduct background checks if they find it necessary.

"In situations like this, you get a young kid that's got a perfect background. He joins the volunteer department. Runs a few calls and it's fun," said Bradley.

He added North Carolina state law also doesn't require firefighters to be certified.

Bradley explained, "Actually, no firefighter according to state law has to be certified. Most municipalities in many volunteer departments require certification eventually. But volunteers, no firefighters in North Carolina have to be certified. It's up to the local jurisdiction."

Deputies said this investigation is ongoing.

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