Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program

Mission Statement

To protect our communities from the dangers of a juvenile fire setter through intervention, by collaborating with participating agencies to refer, assess, and ultimately treat the juvenile fire setter, resulting in a reduction of deliberately set fires that threaten the public's safety and property.

Fire Setting Collaborative Effort

In the past five years, the Biddeford Fire Department and other fire agencies in York County have noted a steady increase in fire setting among juveniles aged 3 to 17. While some of these incidences have been determined to be curiosity fire settings, some juveniles have been assessed with more serious issues.

In an effort to determine further services, the Biddeford Fire Department assembled a meeting of various professionals from the Fire Department, Police Department, and Social Services Agencies. The purpose was to determine resources for juveniles in need of coordinated services.

It was during this collaborative effort that the York County Juvenile Fire Setting Task Force was established. The goal is to bring high-risk fire setters to low and develop standard procedures that will allow communication between agencies for more consistent and effective intervention.

Children & Fire-setting

Juvenile fire-setting is a serious, complex, and costly problem for individuals, their families, and their communities. Juveniles commit thousands of fires each year at a cost of millions of dollars, and account for 40% to 70% of those arrested for arson. In addition to property losses, hundreds of individuals die and thousands are injured each year as a result of fires. In many cases, because of poor judgement, it is the juveniles who set the fires or are younger children who are present when the fires are started.

Over the past decade, our knowledge about juvenile fire setters has increased. However, juvenile fire-setting remains a complex behavior exhibited by children of various ages, with a variety of motives, who come from a wide range of family background and community settings. These factors, coupled with the lack of training and appropriate instruments for assessment, have handicapped mental health professionals, educators, and fire personnel in their efforts to deal effectively with juveniles who set fires.

Services Provided by the Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program

Interview by the Fire Department to Determine Risk

  • Assessment interview

Referral to Appropriate Services

  • Mental health
  • Medical
  • Youth groups

Coordination of Services

  • Juvenile justice
  • Probation / parole
  • Teachers
  • School counselors
  • Fire departments
  • Police departments

Fire Safety Education

  • Fire school