About the Kansas Y-FIRE Program
In 1997, the first year funding of a four year Edward Byrne grant was awarded to Kansas so the state’s fire marshal office could establish a program that would provide fire safety prevention and juvenile firesetter intervention information, resources, training and other services, to local jurisdictions for problem fire setters and their families.
At the conclusion of the Edward Byrne grant in 2001, the Kansas Legislature funded two classified positions to continue the program. In 2002, Kansas was one of four states chosen by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to receive specialized training workshops to assist Kansas communities in developing local youth fire setter intervention coalitions.
In response to these workshops thirteen Kansas coalitions were development. In December 2003, the NASFM chose Kansas as the only state to receive advanced training for coalition partners. Funding for this project originated from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). In 2005, the non-profit, Fire and Burn Safety Alliance of South Central Kansas combined four local programs under their umbrella, expanding to make available services to nine south central Kansas counties.
In 2006, the state program was transferred to the Injury and Disability Section of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Health Promotion where it currently resides.
The Kansas Model
The Kansas Y-FIRE Program follows a community-based fire prevention model. Each county or area is encouraged to define their child-set fire problem and develop a mission statement with short and long-range goals. A new multi-disciplinary coalition can be started or an existing coalition can incorporate fire safety and firesetter intervention into their exiting mission.
A successful partnership has formed in some areas with Safe Kids Kansas local chapters and coalitions to develop fire and burn sub-committees that include youth fire safety and firesetter intervention initiatives. The state model is very flexible with numerous options that can be adapted to meet local needs. Successful coalitions need to involve at least five core areas, fire service, law enforcement, juvenile justice, social services and mental health care providers.
Firesetting by children and adolescents has become a problem of increasing concern. While most people have a fascination with fire, young people usually do not understand its destructive consequences.
The reasons vary when children set fires and without rapid and appropriate intervention, practitioners estimate a rate of recidivism that exceeds 80%. With this in mind an educational and referral system has been designed to ensure appropriate intervention takes place.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 50% of all children will light at least one fire before the age of 13, the majority, males between the ages of 7 and 12. According to 2006 FBI statistics, 49% of arrestees were under the age of 18. In Kansas, fire departments report over 200 juvenile set fires annually with deaths, injuries and millions of dollars of property losses. It is estimated that between 3 and 10 times more fires are started by children then are reported.
This information in this website was developed to provide guidance for Kansas fire departments and their community partners in addressing youth set fires. It is intended to be a tool that can be used to guide you through a difficult process. This reference material can be adapted to meet the needs of your community.
It is our experience that the most successful programs draw upon all of the available resources in the community. The fire service alone does not have the full range of expertise necessary to respond to many of the factors contributing to firesetting behaviors. We strongly urge you to develop a strong multi-disciplinary team to address these issues, including the fire service, school personnel, parents, mental health, social services, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and community health partners and others.
The Kansas Y-FIRE Program would like to acknowledge and thank the following programs for permission to use and adapt their program materials.
- FIRESTOPPERS Children’s Fire Prevention Programs
King, Pierce, Snohomish Counties of Washington State
- Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Programs
San Antonio Fire Department, San Antonio, Texas
- Minnesota Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program
State Fire Marshal Division, Minnesota Department of Public Safety
- Orange County FIRE F.R.I.E.N.D.S Program
Orange County , California
- Oregon State Fire Marshal Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program
Judy Okulitch, Salem, Oregon
- Playing With Fire-A Deadly Game
Irene Pinsonneault, Fall River, Massachusetts
- Phoenix Fire Department – Youth Firesetter Intervention Program
Phoenix , Arizona
- SOS FIRES: Youth Intervention Programs
Don Porth and Lisa Garvich, Damascus, Oregon
- Y-FIRE of Sedgwick County
Wichita , Kansas
- Y-FIRE of Shawnee County
Topeka , Kansas
- Y-FIT of Johnson County
Johnson County , Kansas
Youth Firesafety Program funding provided by the Kansas State Fire Marshal.