Each year, youth firesetting leads to an alarming number of injuries, deaths and property damage. To address this growing and overlooked problem, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) initiated the Youth Firesetting Information Repository and Evaluation System (YFIRES) to serve as a national database, as well as a resource at the local level, for developing intervention programs and other efforts to reduce youth firesetting.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires set by youth between 2007 and 2011 caused annual averages of 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries and $235 million in property damage. Tragically, victims are often children who suffer physically and mentally as a result.
But even with these numbers, youth firesettting incidents are under-reported.
Working with other youth firesetting intervention groups, the IAFF – with funding provided through DHS/FEMA's Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program- Fire Prevention and Safety Grants – began the project to create a centralized data collection tool to assist youth firesetting intervention services in a number of disciplines (fire, mental health, law enforcement, family services).
Pilot testing of the YFIRES database began in January 2015 with organizations/agencies from throughout the United States that track youth firesetting incidences in their communities. The information collected from fire service, law enforcement, juvenile justice, mental health and burn prevention community programs will help generate greater awareness and understanding of youth firesetting behavior and support evidence-based intervention strategies.
"For decades, youth firesetting has been a significant concern within the fire service," says General President Harold Schaitberger. "But without valid and reliable data on this issue, effective fire service and community based intervention has been difficult. This national database will serve as a much needed resource.”
The YFIRES database is now being launched nationwide, with the goal of having every youth firesetting intervention program throughout the U.S. collect and share anonymous data by 2018.
For more information about the Youth Firesetting Information Repository and Evaluation System (YFIRES) or to register a youth firesetting intervention program, visit www.yfires.com.