NFPA statistics illuminate the child firesetting problem; in 2010, 44,000 fires were typically started by a child playing with fire, causing 90 civilian deaths and nearly 900 civilian injuries.
Three presenters at today's education session, "The Critical Role of Prevention in Reducing Youth Firesetting in a Community," discussed their preventative efforts at reducing these numbers.
"We can have the best youth intervention program on the planet, but it's not going to put a dent [in this problem] until we really understand primary prevention," says Paul Schwartzman with Fairport Counseling and Consulting Services in New York. Further underscoring the problem, Schwartzman took part in a developmmental study of grade-school children, with nearly 40 percent admitting to "misuse" of fire at some point in their lives.
A Canadian program, Kids First/Safety First, which provides educational information for fire safety and other topics, utilizes NFPA's safety materials, including the Learn Not to Burn® Preschool Program. The effectiveness of such programs, say the presenters, is evident; the Canadian city of Regina, which implemented the program, went from 30 inner city fires started by children in 2003 to three in 2012.
Download NFPA's safety tip sheet that offers additional tactics on mitigating child firesetting.