Since January 2002, up to 27% of all fires investigated by the Burlington Fire Department’s Investigation Team have been caused by Youth Firesetters. With this figure and the occurrence of unreported juvenile involved fires, the Burlington Fire Department has initiated a Youth Firesetters Intervention Program (YFIP). The goal of the YFIP is to define and change fire setting behavior of youth throughout Burlington and Alamance County. The YFIP creates an identification/referral/educational process for local youth identified as juvenile firesetters.
Nationwide more than 28,000 residential fires occur annually due to child fire play. Sadly, nearly 1,000 of those children die in the fire that they started. Although curiosity is a normal part of a child’s growth and development, curiosity about fire should be taken very seriously.
As part of the Youth Firesetter Intervention Program, a committee of professionals has been established which includes local Fire, Law Enforcement, Alamance-Burlington School System, Mental Health, Department of Social Services and Juvenile Justice team members.
The YFIP is available to any Alamance County youth, ages 6-15. Referrals to the YFIP may be made by parents and caregivers of the individual youth or by member organizations of the YFIP Committee. Before the implementation of the YFIP, no educational option existed specific to fire-related cases. This program will give the Juvenile Justice System an alternative resource as part of the punitive process and require court-ordered participation in the educational phase of the YFIP.
Members of the Burlington Fire Department who have been trained as Youth Firesetter Intervention Specialists currently administer the educational phase of the YFIP. Risk surveys are completed with the individual(s) involved in the fire and the parent/caregiver. Education is based upon results of the risk surveys. Classes are age specific and focus on programs that reinforce fire safety lessons, effects of fire and consequences of fire setting. Parents and caregivers of the individual youth also receive education on identifying and preventing firesetting behavior.
To receive additional information on the Burlington Fire Department Youth Firesetters Intervention Program, please contact program coordinator Lieutenant David Sharpe at 336-516-7359.