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Monday, May 7, 2012

Arson Awreness Week - "Prevent Youth Firesetting"

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is pleased to partner with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI); Safe Kids USA; USAonWatch; National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC); and the National Association of State Fire Marshals to announce the theme for the 2012 Arson Awareness Week (AAW): "Prevent Youth Firesetting."
PGFD and its partners will use the week of May 6–12 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 juveniles engaged with fire.

“Fire in the hands of children is devastating - regardless of a child's age or motive. It is imperative that we do everything possible to prevent youth fire setting to protect the nation's most valuable resource, our children,” stated Ernest Mitchell, Jr,. U.S. Fire Administrator.

In 1991, The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department developed a fire safety intervention program entitled “Juvenile Fire Setter.”  The Juvenile Fire Setter Program was designed to identify and assist children who have a curiosity about fire or a history of setting fires and playing with flammable articles.  Children as young as three, up to the age of eighteen may be referred into the program.  Referrals may come from a parent or guardian, teacher, fire services personnel, other authorities or court ordered.  Once a referral is made, steps are taken to provide age based fire safety education, and in some cases counseling for the juvenile fire setter and his or her family. 

The program is administered through the Office of the Fire Marshal, Fire Investigations Division.  The Program Coordinator is Fire Investigator William Murray. 
For entry into the program contact Investigator Murray at 301-306-5685 or you can Email him at WAMurray@co.pg.md.us

“The Prince George’s County Fire Marshal’s Office has personnel that are extremely talented and experienced and will work with families to address the issue of juvenile fire setting,” said Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.  “It is better to face the issues now, before a tragedy occurs.”

 Here is some additional information that you may find helpful:

Understanding Fire setting: The term fire setting is used to describe the behavior of a child who has begun playing with fire.  The term fire setter does not mean the child has a problem, however it does indicate that additional fire safety education is needed.  There are three types of fire setters:

Curiosity/Experimental – Approximately 70% of fire setters fall into this group.  The child is curious about fire and has the opportunity to experiment with fire in an unsupervised environment.  Basically, he or she wants to “see what fire will do”.  They typically do not think about the danger of their actions.

Reactionary – These fire setters are usually older and are upset about something.  They are not comfortable with expressing themselves.  Lighting a fire is usually a cry for help.  It is a reaction to a problem.

Delinquent – Usually teenagers make up this group.  These fire setters light fires for many reasons.  Most of the time it is a prank or done to cover up other crimes like vandalism or theft.  Some may have a fascination with fire play, however, most juveniles in this group do not realize that they are breaking the law and could go to jail.

Additional information about Juvenile Fire Setting can be found here:  http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/arson/aaw12/facts.shtm.

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