Falcon Fire Protection District
Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program

Facts to Consider:

250,000 children are injured and more than 1,000 die each year as a result of burn trauma.

The legal age to possess a lighter is eighteen years old.

In the State of Colorado, the legal age to be arrested is ten years old – this includes for fire
related crimes.

Almost half (47%) of fireworks injuries are children under the age of fifteen.

“Why Do Kids Set Fires?”

Fire curiosity is natural for young children, however curiosity can progress. Oftentimes firesetting is a symptom of other problems. The different levels of juvenile firesetters include, curiosity, crisis, delinquent, and pathological. Knowing why your child is engaging in fireplay is just one part of providing them the help and education they may need.

The Warning Signs

The following is a list of “red flags” or indicators that your child may have a serious firesetting problem. If your child has had more than one incident of fireplay and exhibits one or more of the following warning signs, you are encouraged to seek professional help.

• Recent changes in behavior
• Attention deficits, temper tantrums, mood swings, impulsive behavior or excessive anger
• Problems at school, such as discipline, learning problems or unexplained absences
• Other troublesome behaviors such as stealing, lying and drug or alcohol use
• Deliberate efforts to collect fire materials
• Failed to get help to extinguish fire
• Shows extreme curiosity about fire
• Recent losses due to health, divorce, loss of friendships, moves, etc.
• History of being abused or neglected
• Sad, withdrawn appearance
• Poor self esteem
• Family stresses
• Daydreams about fire
• Boasts about fire sets
• Aggressive behavior toward people or animals
• Behaviors indicating they are a loner, a risk taker or a fighter
• Fire set deliberately to harm others or to destroy property
• Fire set out of anger or in response to a family problem

Falcon Fire’s Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program

The Falcon Fire Department’s Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program’s mission is to report any incidences of juvenile fireplay or firesetting, no matter how small or large, and intervene through assessments and education so that juveniles understand the dangers of “playing” with fire, and recitivism is avoided.

Referrals to the program come from many sources such as, the fire department, the county Sheriff’s office, parents/guardians, school administrators/teachers, concerned citizens, and/or children “turning themselves in.”  
Unfortunately, statistics show that a very LOW percentage of juvenile-set fires are actually reported.

As stated in the 2003 International Fire Code, Chapter 4 Section 401.3 – “In the event that an unwanted fire occurs on a property (or school), the owner or occupant shall immediately report such condition to the fire department.  Building employees and tenants shall implement the appropriate emergency plans and procedures.  No person shall, by verbal or written directive, require any delay in the reporting of a fire to the fire department.”  This means, by law, any fire, ignition or explosion shall be reported, even if the fire was put out by an owner, tenant, school employee or by a student.

How the program works:

  1. Firesetter is reported/referred to the Falcon Fire Department Intervention Program (by phone-call, email, face-to-face, or in writing).
  2. A Falcon Fire Department Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialist sets appointment for the initial Firesetter Assessment with family.
  3. Following the assessment, the Juvenile Firesetter is scheduled to attend a 3-hour intervention class hosted by the Colorado Springs Fire Department http://www.springsgov.com/Page.aspx?NavID=1233 .
    (If the firesetter assessment reveals that a juvenile may not be ready for this class, the juvenile and family may be referred to a professional counseling/mental health program for further and more in-depth analysis).

Please call Firefighter Matt Gibbs with the Falcon Fire Department at (791) 495-4050 if you would like more information, or if you would like to refer a Juvenile Firesetter to our program.