“Fire in the hands of children is devastating - regardless of a child's age or motive. It is imperative that we do everything possible to prevent youth firesetting to protect the nation's most valuable resource, our children.”
Ernest Mitchell, Jr., U.S. Fire Administrator
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is pleased to partner with the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI); Safe Kids USA; USAonWatch; National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC); and the National Association of State Fire Marshals to announce the theme for the 2012 Arson Awareness Week (AAW): "Prevent Youth Firesetting."
USFA and its partners will use the week of May 6–12 to focus public attention on the importance of a collaborative effort with fire and emergency service departments, law enforcement, mental health, social services, schools, and juvenile justice to help reduce the occurrence of juveniles engaged with fire.
Youth Firesetting Facts Next: What Families Can Do to Be Fire Safe »
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
- Fires started by children playing accounted for an average of 56,300 fires with associated losses of 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries, and $286 million in direct property damage per year between 2005 and 2009.
- Younger children are more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers are more likely to set fires outside.
- Males are more likely to engage in fireplay than females, as 83 percent of home structure fires and 93 percent of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys when age was coded as a factor.
- Lighters were the heat source in half (50 percent) of child-playing fires in homes.
- A child's bedroom continues to account for 40 percent of child-playing home fires.
The U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data indicate, where age was cited as a factor in a fire's ignition by lighters or matches, 37 percent of these fires were started by juveniles aged 10 to 17.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program:
- Juveniles (persons under age 18) accounted for roughly 46 percent of arson arrests in 2005 to 2010.
- In 2010, 40 percent of arson arrests were juveniles with 47.6 percent of those children under 16 years of age. Arrests of juveniles for the crime of arson were higher, proportionally, than for any other crime.
- 34.3 percent of arson offenses cleared involved juveniles, which was the highest percentage of all offense clearances involving only juveniles.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire and Explosives (ATF) reports that from 2000 to 2009:
- There were 1,637 juvenile-involved fire incidents reported in Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS).
- More than half of these fires (56 percent or 909 incidents) were classified as arson.
- Twenty-nine percent (or 476 incidents) were classified as accidental and 15 percent (or 251 incidents) were classified as undetermined.
- The total dollar damage reported for these fires estimated at more than $75 million.