The Allen County Juvenile Firesetters Task Force was formed to identify and help juveniles that have begun to experiment with firesetting. Juvenile firesetting is a common problem in many communities, including Allen County, and the goal of the Task Force is to reduce the number of incidents of juvenile set fires and to assist the families in preventing a reoccurrence of the problem.  Firesetting by children is serious and should not be dismissed as simply a “phase they are going through.”  Fifty five percent of all arson fires each year are started by juveniles 18 and under, and half of those fires are started by children under 15. These fires can cause serious destruction of property and many times the death and/or injury of not only the juvenile themselves, but of innocent people as well. 

The Task Force is a collaboration of agencies helping children and their families through troubled times. Agencies involved in the Task Force consist of the Fort Wayne Fire Department, St. Joseph Regional Burn Center, Allen County Juvenile Probation, Department of Child Services, Northeast Indiana Burn Council, and local mental health professionals and social workers. Each group or individual plays a unique and vital role in identifying, evaluating, educating, and assisting these juveniles and their families. 

Warning signs of firesetting behavior may include an intense interest or preoccupation with fire, damaged or burnt property, missing or out of place matches and lighters, and burn marks on the juvenile or the juvenile’s belongings. Some possible characteristics of juvenile firesetters are impulsiveness, poor social skills, anger and stress management problems, and other antisocial behavior. Children set fires for numerous reasons such as curiosity and experimentation, to experience a feeling of control, as a reaction to stress in their lives, to help release emotions they cannot appropriately deal with, and for feeling alienated. Not every child that exhibits the above behaviors and characteristics is, or will become, a juvenile firesetter, but nearly every juvenile firesetter will exhibit some of the above behaviors and characteristics.  

The Allen County Juvenile Firesetters Task Force is continually attempting to educate the general public, as well as professionals that work with children, about the juvenile firesetting problem and the services offered by the Task Force. If your group would like to schedule an educational session please contact a Task Force member or call the Fort Wayne Fire Department at 260-427-5179.   

Click the links below for more specific information and/or to schedule an intervention.

Juvenile Firesetters Brochure-English

Juvenile Firesetters Brochure-Spanish