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Juvenile Firesetting Program

Is there a juvenile firesetting problem?

The answer is, most definitely. In Connecticut, as in the nation, a majority of the people arrested for arson are under the age of 18. The most recent figures show that in Connecticut, juvenile firesetters accounted for 60.6% of all arson apprehensions. That is quite a figure considering the amount of fires in which no suspect is identified or in which the cause is classified as undetermined. Chances are that the brush fire along the footpath to school was the result of child play. Not every fire must be major to cause concern.

What is the Firehawk Companion Program?

Due to the alarming national statistics, the Firehawk Companion Program was developed in San Francisco in the early 1970"s and brought to Connecticut in 1984. Firehawk provides a systematic and unified approach to dealing with the complexities of juvenile firesetting by companions that are trained and experienced in dealing with this type of behavior.

The program consists of four parts, not all of which are used in all cases:

ASSESSMENT - In each case the companion assesses the firesetter. The firesetting behavior is examined and classified in to one of four behavior patterns: Curiosity, Crisis, Delinquent or Problem. This is done through conversations with the child's parents, the child and analysis of the nature of the fire. Once the behavior is classified, the Firehawk Companion will map a strategy for working with the child, family and health care professionals.

EDUCATION – This is a component of working with all children no matter what the behavior classification. The companion works with the child to gain a sound base of fire and life prevention behavior. Often, these meetings take place at the fire station, but may also take place in the home or other location. Topics may include the history of fire, fire uses, safety with outdoor fires, and home fire safety devices.

TREATMENT – Sometimes, education is not enough. This is often true of the crisis firesetter who is using fire as a cry for help. In these cases, the Firehawk Companion works with the healthcare professional in providing the very best combination of education and counseling.

FOLLOW UP – After the program is completed, the Firehawk Companion will call and check the child’s status on the third, sixth, and twelfth months.

Did you know?
When a child’s firesetting behavior goes untreated, there is an 81% risk of the behavior being repeated and that risk drops to 10% when treatment is provided.

Can’t I take care of this myself?
Sure, but remember: Firehawk Companions are trained in dealing with all types of firesetting behavior. Sometimes you can just be too close to the situation to effectively deal with it.

What should I do if my child has been playing with fire?
Call us! The Firehawk Companion Program is reached through the West Hartford Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau (860) 561-8320 Monday through Friday 8:30 to 4:30 p.m..

Who can make a referral?
The Firehawk Companion Program can accept referrals from parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, the court or juvenile review board, friends, neighbors and anyone else who has an interest in the safety of the child.