The Zion Fire Rescue Department is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Firesetters Task Force and currently have two members of our department trained in this. This task force was developed to develop and coordinate a comprehensive statewide program to identify, intervene with and counsel juveniles to reduce fire deaths, injuries and property damage from criminal and non-criminal fires.
It was found in a survey, conducted by the State Fire Marshals office, that juveniles are responsible for a large number of fires that resulted in the ultimate consequences of injuries and deaths. During this past year the Zion Fire Rescue Department had six (6) fires that were attributed to the actions of juveniles. Many of the fires are started by young firesetters who are just curious about matches and lighters. However, if there is no intervention they could end up as young arsonists with fatal results.
Juveniles who are found to be responsible for fires, or who may have a problem with playing with matches or lighters are required to attend counseling sessions with one of our firefighters who have been trained in this program. This includes individual, one on one counseling sessions, viewing special videos, education on the dangers of fire and possible consequences of their actions. Proper and timely intervention with juveniles at an early stage, by both our trained counselors and family members, can have a great impact on future problems.
We feel that continued work in this area can help reduce the number of fires set by juveniles. The fruits of these efforts can be measured in lives saved, injuries prevented and property protected.