Juvenile Firesetters Program

In a typical year, in the United States, 300 people are killed and $300 million dollars in property is destroyed in fires set by children. Children themselves are usually the victims of these fires, accounting for 85 of every 100 lives lost.

The statistics are climbing. It is a problem that needs the attention of parents, teachers, counselors and community leaders, in cooperation with fire and law enforcement officers. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a child could change his/her life and the life of their family with the strike of just one match.

These Tragic Events Aren't Isolated Incidents

  • Roanoke, Virginia, a seven-year-old boy set fire to a chair in an abandoned building, the fire spread to an adjacent house and trapped an elderly woman.
  • Rochester, New York, a two-year-old, playing with matches, started a fire that took his life and the lives of five family members.
  • Passaic, New Jersey, a firefighter lost his life and hundreds of people lost their homes in a fire accidentally started by a group of teenage boys.

The Reason for the Problem

Many children who display firesetting behavior are curious about fire but are unaware of its potential destructive force. If these children are left unsupervised or lack sufficient constructive activities in their lives to ward off boredom, they often turn to firesetting.

However, a certain percentage of children set fires as a result of their inability to handle an emotional or stressful problem such as a low self-esteem or coping with family turmoil. Thus, firesetting is only a symptom of a deeper problem.

Addressing the Problem

The heart of our Juvenile Firesetter Program lies in its ability to identify and assess at-risk youth and their families. Children are usually referred to our program by way of concerned teachers, firefighters, parents, or juvenile service agencies.

  • The first step of the process is for the fire educator to interview the parents or guardians and the child to gather background Information to help assess the specific nature of the problem.
  • The second step is to determine the child's understanding of fire and its potential danger.
  • Educational tools are then administered throughout the meetings. Assignments are also given to the child to heighten their knowledge and responsibility of fire.
  • Although the educator does not do psychological counseling, if it is determined during any of the process that the child's problem may possibly be psychological, counseling of that nature will be recommended.

How to Enroll in JFS Program

Who Is Eligible For Enrollment?

Any child who resides in the city of Chesapeake. Other local cities also have programs to help educate young firesetters. Therefore, if you live in another city, please contact their Fire Prevention Division.

Is There Any Cost For Enrollment?

Enrollment in this specialized education program is totally free of charge.

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