Juvenile Fire Setters program

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lighterchildSometimes 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 Setters program.

Members of MCFR's Prevention department 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 with only two becoming repeat offenders.

For more information, contact MCFR Prevention at 352-291-8000.