"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine." - Kurt Vonnegut

Juvenile Firesetter Intervention

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Fire Marshal Gene Hunter and Captain Frank Herrick are trained in evaluating and counseling juvenile firesetters.

Philosophy—Early intervention with children can sometimes prevent recurring fire play and/or an escalation in fire setting behaviors leading to serious safety and legal problems. Moreover, it is known that children set fires for different reasons. Sometimes the firesetting is grounded in normal learning and curiosity whereas in other children the firesetting behavior is indicative of larger problems in the child's life.

The Process

  • Referral—Parents may self-refer their child that is displaying undo curiosity about fire and/or has been involved in inappropriate fire play whether mischievous or innocent. Johnson County Court Services also refers juveniles who have been charged with arson-related charges and who qualify for diversion or structured probation.

  • Initial Interview—An initial interview is conducted to determine details of the incident and the background of the child. A determination is then made as to whether the level of counseling the Fire Department can do is adequate to the situation or additional referral to counseling professionals is necessary.

  • Lecture and Homework—Frank and Gene will then structure an age-appropriate curriculum to help the child understand the nature of fire and the actual and potential consequences of firesetting.