Arson Awareness Week: Help Your Community Prevent Youth Firesetting
May 6-12 is Arson Awareness Week, and this year's theme is Prevent Youth Firesetting. The U.S. Fire Administration and its partners are asking fire service organizations across the country to use this time to focus public attention on the importance of a collaborative effort with fire and emergency service departments, law enforcement, mental health, social services, schools, and juvenile justice to help reduce the occurrence of youth engaged with fire.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 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 2005-2009.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program report states that juveniles (persons under age 18) accounted for roughly 46 percent of arson arrests in 2005-2010. In 2010, 40 percent of arson arrests were juveniles, with 47.6 percent of those children under 16 years of age.
"Fire in the hands of children is devastating – regardless of a child's age or motive," said Ernest Mitchell, Jr., U.S. Fire Administrator. "It is imperative that we do everything possible to prevent youth firesetting to protect the nation's most valuable resource, our children."
Parents should teach young children that fire is a tool, not a toy; keep matches and lighters out of reach, in high, ideally locked, cabinets; and set a good example by safely using matches, lighters, and fire. The most important thing a parent or caregiver can do is to always supervise young children.
In 1999, the USFA developed and released the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS 5.0) Arson Module (NFIRS-11). The Arson Module can be utilized to document juvenile-set fires, whether determined to be intentional, unintentional, or under investigation. This information will permit analysis of juvenile firesetting trends, including intervention strategies and repeated activity.
For more information regarding the 2012 Arson Awareness Week, go to www.usfa.fema.gov/aaw.
For more information about the National Fire Academy's Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention class or other training courses, go to www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa.