Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program

The Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program is dedicated to reducing the frequency and severity of the tragedy and tragedy and trauma caused by children and their fire related activities.

It is a statewide standardized program to provide prevention education/intervention and referrals if warranted for the children and families of Illinois to reduce the frequency and severity of fires set by juveniles. The components of this program are:
  • Identification System
  • Intake Process
  • Interview/Screening Strategies
  • Education/Intervention Services
  • Evaluation/Follow-Up - The Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program is confidential and available to anyone at no cost.
A trained certified interventionist, can vary the program content based on the needs, age, maturity and understanding of the child.

Fire Station Partners

Partnering with the fire service, this program will provide a coordinated referral center for the assessment and treatment of juvenile fire setters and their families, thereby slowing down the often devastating results of fire setting. Prevention education can quell the youth fire problem, but only when properly targeted, designed and delivered. The behaviors causing the problem must be considered because what motivates their behavior is the surest clue to solving the youth fire setting problem.

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) began managing the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program in 2008. The IFSA updated the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program, reworking the curriculum and providing the interventionists with standardized resources throughout the state, allowing for increased success and support to address the needs of the fire setting problem.

Within the State of Illinois, there has been no prior detailed statistical data available regarding juveniles and fire setting. The IFSA has created a standardized reporting system as a means to discern the juvenile fire setting incident and the surrounding circumstances.

For more information, contact the IFSA Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program at 800-634-0911 or email Firefighter Barb Dibbern at the Romeoville Fire Department. Barb can also be contacted by telephone at 815-886-5915.

The Juvenile Fire Setting Problem

  • 14,500 child-playing structure fires reported
  • 130 civilian deaths
  • 810 civilian injuries
  • $328 million in direct damage
  • 85% of fires reported are in the home
  • 33% of fire play reported under the age of 4
  • 63% of fatal victims are under the age of 5

Why Juveniles Set Fires

In order to understand why fire setting behavior occurs, it is best to look at where and why children set fires. The levels of risk are based on the likelihood of the juvenile to repeat fire setting incidents.

Little Risk/curiosity

Curiosity and experimentation is the most common motivator in unsupervised fire setting. Most fire setters fall into this category. Many of these incidents may go unreported. With early identification and education, these fire setters have little risk for future involvement in fire setting.

Moderate Risk/troubled

Juveniles who fall into this category may have a history of fire setting and without intervention, will most likely set fires again. This fire setting may be a cry for help. The earlier a juvenile is identified and provided with appropriate intervention, reduces the possibility of future fire setting. Without intervention, there is a significant chance of future fire setting.

Moderate Risk/delinquent

Juveniles who fall into the delinquent category differ from those in the prior categories in that they exhibit a certain pattern of aggressive, deviant, and sometimes criminal behavior. These behaviors may begin to surface at a young age. A defiant and stubborn preschooler may turn into a deceptive child or pre-teen and may engage in fire setting, petty theft and vandalism as a teenager. Family dynamics and anti-social behavior can also play a role.

Definite Risk/criminal

Less than 1% of fire setters fall into this category. These juveniles may be hospitalized or are being treated for a mental disorder. They can best be helped by mental health professionals.

Juvenile Fire Setters Interventionists

Juvenile Fire Setter Interventionists are Illinois State certified by the Office of the State Fire Marshal through the IFSA Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program. Interventionists are trained in accordance to the National Fire Protection Association 1035 standards regarding juvenile fire setting. Interventionists work confidentially with communities to provide juvenile fire setters and their family’s fire safety education and prevention.