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To make a report or to receive additional information about this program, please contact our Public Education office at 402-444-3560. 

Thank you to the University of Omaha Marketing Capstone students for creating this video to spread awareness: https://youtu.be/BdJMOO-iQOY

V3 YFS Flyer

Injuries, Fatalities, and Property Loss

Youth firesetting impacts a community in many ways; for example, according to the National Fire Protection Association, in 1998, it was estimated that fire set by children and juveniles resulted in 300 American deaths, another 3,000 injuries, and three hundred million dollars in property damage. In addition, millions of dollars of property are lost annually. Child fire starting is the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers. In fact, children start almost 42% of fires that kill children 5 and under.

Criminal Charges

Youth firesetting may be part of a pattern of criminal activity for the juvenile. Juveniles start 50% of all arson fires in our city and across the country.

Youth Fire Starter Education Program Overview

In an effort to reduce the number of youth firesetting incidents, the Omaha Fire Department will provide a Youth Firesetting (YFS) Education Program for youth and their families seeking help.

The education program for those 8-18 years of age teaches the power of fire, consequences of playing with fire, fire prevention and how to survive a fire.

In addition, parents are provided information on building character in children, fire prevention and survival.

For children ages 3-7 the education program teaches fire safety based on The NFPA's The Learn Not To Burn Program. Parents are provided information on building character in children, fire prevention and survival.

Understanding Juvenile Fire Starters

Curious Fire Starters

Many young children are fascinated by fire, but do not understand its destructive nature. These fire starters are usually between the ages of 1 and 8. Children set fires because of curiosity, or accidentally due to poor judgment. These fires are unplanned and started with matches or lighters that are readily available. Usually, there is an attempt by the juvenile to extinguish the fire or call for help. Feelings of guilt or remorse occur after the incident. Often, young children imitate adults who light cigarettes, candles, or fireplaces. Unfortunately, many fire starters lack parental supervision or education about fire safety.

Troubled Fire Starters

Mental or emotional disturbances can cause fire setting behavior. Many of these fire starters are boys and live in single parent homes with little adult supervision. One or more of the following problems may exist: physical illnesses, history of physical or sexual abuse, poor impulse control, and overwhelming feelings of anger. These children often set fires as a way to act out anger, frustration, and feelings of powerlessness.

Delinquent Fire Starters

These are youths usually in their teens with a history of starting fires. They set fires as acts of vandalism or for creating excitement and destroying property. Usually strongly influenced by their peers, they use fire to cause malicious mischief or rebel against authority. Abandoned buildings, open fields, and schools are common targets. Most of these fire starters have a history of antisocial behavior, lying, stealing, truancy, and drugs.

Pathological Fire Starters

These youths often have a long history of behavioral problems. Their symptoms usually fall into two major personality types labeled as "Impulsive Neurotic" and "Borderline Psychotic".

Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers

When child's play becomes deadly: little kids setting fires NFPA data show that preschoolers are in greatest danger.

  • Store all matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Use only child-resistant lighters, but remember they are not child-proof
  • Never leave young children unattended.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children. They may imitate what you do.
  • If you suspect your child is playing with fire or unduly fascinated with fire, get help immediately. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with experts trained to help.
  • Teach young children to tell an adult if they find matches or lighters, and teach school-age children to bring any matches or lighters to an adult.
  • Teach kids to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch on fire.
  • Teach young children when fire strikes, not to hide, but to get out of the house immediately.