The Salem Fire Department has implemented a Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program to address the increasing problem of Juvenile Fire Setters in our community. It is estimated that juveniles set approximately 40% of all arson fires. These fires cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damages annually and thousands of needless injuries and deaths.
Clearly the problem of juvenile fire-setting is a costly, often deadly, problem. Whether the result of a curious child playing with matches or the malicious act of a disturbed youth, juvenile fire setting is a serious problem that requires an immediate response from the community.
The members of the Salem Fire Department recognize this issue and have worked diligently to build a system to identify and educate our city’s youth in regards to juvenile fire-setting. Following guidelines created by the United States Fire Administration, the Salem Fire Department has created a Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program. The candidates are referred to our office by parents, police officers, school administrators, juvenile probation officers, and our own staff. Our program advocates and “evaluation, education, and referral program” as is recommended by the USFA.
Upon notification of a youth with a fire-setting incident, our staff will set up a meeting with parents and the youth to discuss and evaluate the situation. We use guidelines created by the USFA in our evaluation and recommendations. Upon the completion of the evaluation, the youth are then scheduled for our Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Program. And in the case of moderate or high-risk cases, the youths and their parents/guardians are also referred to the proper agencies for further assistance (e.g. Mental Health, DSS, Juvenile Justice agencies, Child Protective Services.)
Our courses are structured for two age groups, starting with ages 7-10 and 11-16 years of age. The curriculum contained in our courses focus on educating the students in fire safety and prevention, fire science, peer pressure, decision making, the legal process and the justice system. The students are given homework assignments at the end of each class. These assignments are family oriented and require the assistance of a parent or in some instances all family members. By implementing these types of homework assignments we are raising the awareness level, not only with the student, but also with the whole family.
The Salem Fire Department is completely committed to providing this necessary service to our community.