JUVENILE FIRESETTING INTERVENTION service is offered by this division as a means to assist certain at risk juveniles control any fire-setting or fire-play behavior. Due to the in-depth fire safety programs presented each year it has been found that most fire-setting behavior is not always related to a lack of fire safety knowledge but to a lack of parental attention to the juvenile. The interventions are always carried out with the juvenile's parents in attendance for without their support the fire setting behavior usually will reoccur. Simple curiosity and/or experimentation with fire by juveniles can normally be stopped after one intervention if the parents follow through with our suggestions. Juveniles with fire-setting behavior that is related to abuse, anger, or other emotional problems are referred, along with the family, to area counselors for further assistance.
The Allen County Juvenile Firesetters Task Force, of which the FWFD is the leading agency, is continually striving to reduce the number of juvenile set fires through better community awareness of the problem and better follow-through with the affected families. Juvenile firesetter interventions are normally conducted along with the participation of a mental health counselor from the task force. This allows for a more accurate assessment of the juvenile, discovery of any family problems that may exist, and the ability to make better recommendations regarding possible counseling needed by the juvenile and the family.
Referrals to the firesetter program come through the FWFD Investigation Division, Allen County Juvenile Probation Dept., behavioral health facilities, and concerned parents. Again in 2011 the Task Force hosted a special one day juvenile firesetter seminar that was attended by nearly 155 firefighters, police officers, and mental health/social workers from throughout the tri-state area. In 2011 our division had 19 juvenile fire-setter interventions. We have seen an encouraging trend in our community of a decreasing number of juveniles referred for interventions due primarily to less involvement in local fires.