|Juvenile Fire Setter Program|
Captain Cliff Grier with help from Angie Sweeney and
Ken McCann (not pictured) teach children enrolled
the Juvenile Fire Setter program the dangers associated
with playing with fire.
|Juvenile Fire Setter
Sometimes they're bored, other times just curious. Fire is mesmerizing, and for that reason children often play and experiment with it. What they don't realize is that just one strike of a match or one flick of a lighter can have devastating consequences resulting in death, destruction of property, hefty fines and jail time.
Marion County Fire-Rescue (MCFR) has received dozens of referrals to its Juvenile Fire Setter's Program.
MCFR Fire Investigator Angie Sweeney and Captain Cliff Grier teach the two-hour mandatory class, offering it multiple times a year to children and teens between the ages of 4 and 16. Through use of videos, classroom instruction and discussion, participants see first hand the consequences of playing with fire. They also write essays on fire safety and prevention as well as hear stories from other fire starters.
Police charge more juveniles with arson than any other age group. Every
year more than 250,000 juveniles are treated for burn injuries, and more
than 1,100 die in fires across the nation. It's important to pay close
attention to a child's interest in fire and keep matches and lighters
out of reach.
That's why MCFR's Juvenile Fire Setter's Program will work to curb curiosity in the early stages as well as educate parents, teachers and other community members on how to identify children most at risk. As a result, Marion County could see a significant decrease in the loss of life and property as a result of juvenile fire play.
Since the program's inception in 1992, MCFR has counseled more than 800 children, only two of which became a repeat offender.
In 2005, MCFR's Prevention Division also spearheaded a unique partnership, forming the Marion County Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Coalition, composed of various fire and law enforcement agencies as well as child advocacy groups. This Coalition entered into a formal, written partnership in May of 2006 to show their solidarity and commitment to preventing further juvenile fire setting.
For more information on the Juvenile Fire Setter's Program or The Marion County Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Coalition, call Angie Sweeney at (352) 291-8000.