Unfortunately, children misusing fire is the leading cause of child fire casualties. Younger children are more likely to start fires in their home where older children and teenagers are more likely to start fires outside. Our city continues to experience many fire incidents originated by children and youth under the age of eighteen that result in fires of varying magnitudes.
To show the impact of fires set by youth in our community, consider these facts:
- Over one million dollars of property loss has resulted from youth set fires in Colorado Springs over the past five years.
- Over 1,000 children have been referred to the Colorado Springs Fire department for youth misuse of fire incidents over the past eight years.
- Youth arson is on the rise and is the fastest growing juvenile crime in the nation.
- Nationally, 85% of all children killed in fires, die as a result of a fire they started themselves.
- Fire and burn-related deaths are the second leading cause of accidental death of children under the age of fifteen.
Firesetting Warning Signs
- Recent changes in behavior
- Attention deficits, such as discipline, learning problems or unexplained absence.
- other troublesome behaviors such as stealing, lying and drug or alcohol use.
- Deliberate efforts to collect fire materials.
- Failed to get help to extinguish a fire.
- Shows extreme curiosity about fire.
- Recent losses due to health, divorce, loss of friendships etc.
- History of being abused or neglected.
- Sad, withdrawn appearance.
- Poor self-esteem
- Family stresses
- Daydreams about fire.
- Boasts about setting fires.
- Aggressive behavior toward people or animals.
- Behaviors indicating they are a loner, a risk taker or a fighter.
- Fire set deliberately to harm others or to destroy property.
- Fire set out of anger or in response to a family problem.
The CSFD created the FireFactor programs to address the youth misuse of fire issues in our community. FireFactor has three main components:
- FireFactor: a prevention program designed for 6th graders in local schools (see School Programs)
- FireFactor2: an intervention program for youth who have set a fire or have a high curiosity level of fire
- FireFactor+: an information program for caregivers of youth who have misused fire.
Three Ways to Make a Referral
After we receive a referral, we will schedule the initial firesetting risk assessment that the child and parent/guardian attend. During this assessment, we will ask questions of the child and of the parent/guardian to determine what risk level the child is at for future firesetting behavior. The outcomes of the assessment range from educational intervention to a referral to mental/behavioral health or a combination of both.
Our educational class is offered 4 times per year (more frequent based on demand) and is taught by our Fire & Life Safety Educators, Firefighters and a burn survivor. This 2 ½ hour class encourages children to take accountability for their actions, learn about good decision making, fire safety education and it ends with a phenomenal speaker who is a burn survivor and has an inspirational message for both the kids and their families.
To attend this class you need to meet the following criteria:
- Completed a firesetting risk assessment
- Children must be over the age of 8 and under the age of 18
- Have the ability to participate in a 2 ½ hour long class
- A parent/guardian must attend with the child
For more information on our intervention class, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-385-7376
FireFactor program for the caregivers of children that have been involved in a firesetting incident or that show a great interest or curiosity about fire. Typically held in conjunction to the FireFactor² program, this educational course provides important information from the fire department in regards to home fire safety, warning signs for risk taking behavior as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
The CSFD has worked to develop a robust Mental/Behavioral Health taskforce made up of area providers who specialize in working with children who have a propensity to set fires. We have made sure that we have providers that will service any client regardless of financial abilities. We are more than happy to provide you with referrals to one of these professionals. Contact us for more information on how to connect with our providers: 719-385-7376, email@example.com, or fill out the Program Inquiry Form.