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Arson Awareness Week May 6-12 – Prevent Youth Fire Setting

May 6-12 is the U.S. Fire Administration National Arson Awareness Week. This year’s focus is Prevent Youth Fire Setting.

Illinois has a statewide program to address juvenile fire setting. The Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program is a confidential program available to anyone at no cost completed by Certified Juvenile Fire Setter Interventionists. Interventionists, mainly firefighters, in Illinois are state certified by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Illinois Fire safety Alliance. Interventionists are trained in accordance to the National Fire Protection Association 1035 Standards regarding juvenile fire setting. Interventionists work confidentially with communities to provide juvenile fire setters and their families fire safety education and prevention.

To find out more information on the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance’s Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program visit or contact the Helpline at 847-400-4864.

Why Children Set Fires
In order to understand why fire setting behavior occurs, it is best to look at where and why children set fires. Experts believe there are two basic types of children who set fires.
•Curiosity Fire Setters are usually under 7 years old who have a fascination with fire that leads to fire setting. They are seeking to find out how fire feels, how it burns, and what it does. Curiosity Fire Setters do not know the destructive potential of fire. Even though curiosity is a normal part of child development, curiosity in fire must be taken seriously.
•Problem Fire Setters are generally over 5, but can be very young. Fires are set due to mild to severe emotional or mental disturbances or behaviors. A crisis in a child's life such as divorce, moving, or death could trigger fire setting behavior. Behavior traits may include poor peer relationships, cruelty to animals, and extreme mood changes.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
•Fires started by children playing accounted for an average of 56,300 fires with associated losses of 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries, and $286 million in direct property damage per year between 2005 and 2009.
•Younger children are more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers are more likely to set fires outside.
•Males are more likely to engage in fireplay than females, as 83 percent of home structure fires and 93 percent of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys when age was coded as a factor.
•Lighters were the heat source in half (50 percent) of child-playing fires in homes.
•A child's bedroom continues to account for 40 percent of child-playing home fires.
The U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data indicate, where age was cited as a factor in a fire's ignition by lighters or matches, 37 percent of these were started by juveniles aged 10 to 17.fires were started by juveniles aged 10 to 17.

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