The Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Program is a program designed to provide guidance and education to juvenile fire Setters and their families. Using community resources, the goal of this specialized program is to identify children involved in fire setting, and then redirect that life-threatening behavior into acceptable channels.
Curiosity about fire is a part of every child's growth process – especially between the ages of two and eight. Unfortunately, this curiosity often leads to tragedy. Juveniles account for nearly 80 percent of arson arrests in the city of Hagerstown every year. These fires set by children can be as costly to the community in dollar loss, injury and death as the adult arson situation.
Although the majority of fires set by children are motivated by curiosity or determined to be accidental, fire setting behavior in some children is really a "cry for help," an expression of unhappiness or need. For these children, fire setting is a symptom of the problem and NOT the problem itself.
This intervention program offers families and other professionals a mechanism to assist the juvenile fire setter. The program involves a screening interview with the child and the family to determine motivation for the fire setting. Based on the profile developed through this interview, the child is recommended for specialized fire safety education, professional counseling or a combination of both elements. Children can be referred to the program by a fire marshal, the Department of Juvenile Justice, a parent or relative, schools or other agencies.
Juvenile fire setters are a cause of concern for all of us. Adults must recognize that a child's interest and curiosity about fire must be met with information and education as soon as the child exhibits the need. Punishment and "scare tactics" will not necessarily satisfy a child's need to know about fire – its usefulness and its danger.
Parents should seek assistance from local fire and rescue departments to help teach young children about fire safety.
If Your Child Plays With Fire...Seek Help! Don't Wait!
If you would like more information about the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention program or need assistance teaching a young child about fire safety, write, call or fill out the Juvenile Fire Setter form:
Hagerstown Fire Department
25 Church Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740