Youth firesetting, or the misuse of fire by children, isn’t necessarily arson. The misuse of fire has many variables, including age, motivation for firesetting behavior, type of fire set, ignition materials used to set the fire, and the child’s understanding and limitations of fire. Firesetting behavior is often a symptom of the problem and may be manifested through stress and crisis in children’s lives.
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.
Lighters were the heat source in 50% of child-playing fires in homes.
A child’s bedroom accounts for 40% of child-playing home fires.
While curiosity about fire is natural, fires set by children are costly, dangerous and deadly. Families wanting to build a fire safe home should focus on three key attributes:
Why do children set fires?
Teaching children fire safety
Home fire safety tips
Youth Firesetters Intervention Program
If there is still concern, or a child in your home has started a fire, the West Fargo Fire Department offers an intervention program in conjunction with the Fargo Fire Department and West Fargo Police Department to address this issue. This program helps the whole family understand why the incident happened and what can be done for it not to happen again. The program not only identifies the child’s curiosity, but also other issues that may have impacted their behavior and choices.
If you would like to speak to someone about a youth firesetting intervention, please contact us. The West Fargo Fire Department is also working to train staff and create a more robust Youth Firesetters Intervention Program.