Youth Fire Education Program

Though fire is a natural curiosity, casual fire play and experimentation are never acceptable. Unfortunately, children, and even some adults, do not realize the potential for personal and property harm that can result from the careless misuse of fire. The York County Youth Fire Education Program, YFEP, is an intervention and educational program designed for youth up to age 17 who exhibit an unusual interest in fires or a history of fire misuse. This educational program lasts from 2-8 weeks. It aims to reduce the number of fires and burn injuries caused by youth experimenting with fire and deter any continued future misuse. It assumes that there must be information about fire that the student does not possess based on their behavior with fire.  

Youth start fires for many reasons. If it is from natural curiosity, it is usually a one-time careless incident. It typically results from lack of supervision and the availability of matches or lighters. If the child has a history of fireplay, the misuse may express loneliness, frustration, or anger. Fire events may happen because of a crisis in the home, at school, or with friends. Any fire education plan begins with a clear understanding of the motivation for the fire behaviors.

For this program, the FLS Public Educator will establish contact with and interview the parent or caregiver, provide an overview of the program, interview the child, identify the motivation for the firesetting behavior, and implement confidential educational sessions that meet the needs of the child involved. This educational plan seeks to improve knowledge about fire and the dangers of fire, consequences of experimentation, fire safety, burn prevention, and overall life safety for those involved. Children may be referred to our Youth Fire Education Program in a variety of ways. If you have concerns about your child, please contact us at 890-3600 for program information.

News to Use: (Sources: NFPA and DC.gov)

  • Fires and burns are the leading causes of injury and death to children.
  • A Youth Firesetter is a child under the age of 18 who has accidentally or purposely set a fire.
  • Children set more than 250,000 fires annually.
  • Younger children are more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers are more likely to set fires outside. 
  • Males are more likely to engage in fireplay than females, as 83 percent of home structure fires and 93 percent of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys when age was coded as a factor. 
  • Lighters were the heat source in half (50 percent) of child-playing fires in homes. 
  • A child’s bedroom continues to account for 40 percent of child-playing home fires. 
  • Of every 100 people who die in child-set fires, 85 are children.
  • Children are twice as likely as adults to die in a fire.
  • Even toddlers can start a fire with a match or a lighter.
  • 80% of juvenile firesetters will be repeat firesetters without intervention.

Key Factors that Influence Firesetting: (Source USFA)

  • Easy access to lighters and matches—In many homes where a child or adolescent was involved in starting a fire, they easily discovered the matches or lighter or knew exactly where to find them. Keep your matches or lighters in secure locations. Inform your child that you will randomly check their pockets, backpacks, and rooms for matches and lighters.
  • Supervision/Awareness—Providing  supervision and being aware of firesetting behavior are important. Parents are often shocked to learn their child was engaged in firesetting over a prolonged period of time.
  • Failure to teach and practice fire safety—Young children, teens, and even parents often lack understanding of the dangers associated with firesetting and safety rules about fire. Adults should model and practice fire safety every day.
  • Easy access to information on the Internet—Technology has made explicit media available to youths about many dangerous and often illegal activities to replicate. Be aware of what your child is exposed to via the Internet. 

Youte Fire Education