The Youth Fire Intervention & Re-Education (FIRE) program is intended for children ages 4-17 who have demonstrated unsafe behavior or participated in unsafe activities involving fire. Once referred to the program, trained team members will meet with the youth and their family to identify strategies and resources to improve the situation through educational opportunities. Education sessions will be based on assessments conducted with the youth and will generally focus on fire safe behaviors, fire safety education, risks associated with fire burn injuries and fire deaths, and property destruction. Program participation may be voluntary, utilized as part of a diversion program, or mandated.
Youth fire-setting is an under reported problem in the United States. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reviewed 5 years of data and determined that an average of 49,300 fires involving youth were reported in the United States per year. They further determined:
- The fires resulted in 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries and $235 Million in property damage.
- Structure fires accounted for 23% of fires, but 98% of civilian deaths, 93% of civilian injuries, and 91% of property damage.
- Outside or unclassified fires accounted for three-quarters (76%) of the fires.
- Half of the structure fires (52%) were ignited with a lighter and 18% were ignited with matches.
- Fires started by lighters or matches caused 82% of civilian deaths.
- 83% of these fires were caused by a male youth, while 43% were started by children under 6 years old.
Intervention and education are critical to prevent further escalation, injuries, or even death.
The Charleston Fire Marshal Division, in partnership with multiple agencies, is offering “Youth FIRE Quest” to intervene and assist with the education of children in the City of Charleston. We offer a multi-step process to help families in identifying, intervening, and initiating a tailored education strategy for the child and their family. Each child will meet with specially trained members of our team to learn about fire setting dangers and complete assigned homework. Our partnership includes professional counselors and other resources to aid families.