Youth Misuse of Fire

Unfortunately, children misusing fire is the leading cause of child fire casualties. Younger children are more likely to start fires in their home where older children and teenagers are more likely to start fires outside. Our city continues to experience many fire incidents originated by children and youth under the age of eighteen that result in fires of varying magnitudes.

To show the impact of fires set by youth in our community, consider these facts:

  • Over one million dollars of property loss has resulted from youth set fires in Colorado Springs over the past five years.
  • Over 1,000 children have been referred to the Colorado Springs Fire department for youth misuse of fire incidents over the past eight years.
  • Youth arson is on the rise and is the fastest growing juvenile crime in the nation.
  • Nationally, 85% of all children killed in fires, die as a result of a fire they started themselves.
  • Fire and burn-related deaths are the second leading cause of accidental death of children under the age of fifteen.

Firesetting Warning Signs

  • Recent changes in behavior
  • Attention deficits, such as discipline, learning problems or unexplained absence.
  • other troublesome behaviors such as stealing, lying and drug or alcohol use.
  • Deliberate efforts to collect fire materials.
  • Failed to get help to extinguish a fire.
  • Shows extreme curiosity about fire.
  • Recent losses due to health, divorce, loss of friendships etc.
  • History of being abused or neglected.
  • Sad, withdrawn appearance.
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Family stresses
  • Daydreams about fire.
  • Boasts about setting fires.
  • Aggressive behavior toward people or animals.
  • Behaviors indicating they are a loner, a risk taker or a fighter.
  • Fire set deliberately to harm others or to destroy property.
  • Fire set out of anger or in response to a family problem.

FireFactor Programs

The Colorado Springs Fire Department's FireFactor program was developed for our middle school students to educate them on the proper use of fire and the consequences of unsupervised, experimental or illegal use of fire. This FREE 50-minute high-tech, multimedia and interactive presentation covers the Colorado education standards in earth science, health and physical education including:

  • Fire in today's media and its social acceptance
  • Fire Safety and consequences for fire misuse
  • The crime of juvenile arson
  • Fire's influence on populations and geography
  • Wildfires in Colorado

FireFactor has three main components:

  1. FireFactor – a prevention program designed for 6th graders that is presented in local area schools
  2. FireFactor2 – an intervention program for youth who have set a fire or have a high curiosity level of fire
  3. FireFactor+ - an information program for caregivers of youth who have misused fire.

Referral to FireFactor2

The Colorado Springs Fire Department’s FireFactor2 program is an intervention program specifically designed to work with youth that have a propensity to misuse fire. This nationally recognized program continues to innovate how the CSFD can best deliver education and assistance these children and their families. Anyone in the community can make a referral for a child that you know is misusing fire. Your referral may save someone’s life.

Three Ways to Make a Referral

Assessment Process

After we receive a referral, we will schedule the initial firesetting risk assessment that the child and parent/guardian attend. During this assessment, we will ask questions of the child and of the parent/guardian to determine what risk level the child is at for future firesetting behavior. The outcomes of the assessment range from educational intervention to a referral to mental/behavioral health or a combination of both.

Educational Class

Our educational class is offered 4 times per year (more frequent based on demand) and is taught by our Fire & Life Safety Educators, Firefighters and a burn survivor. This 2 ½ hour class encourages children to take accountability for their actions, learn about good decision making, fire safety education and it ends with a phenomenal speaker who is a burn survivor and has an inspirational message for both the kids and their families.

To attend this class you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Completed a firesetting risk assessment
  • Children must be over the age of 8 and under the age of 18
  • Have the ability to participate in a 2 ½ hour long class
  • A parent/guardian must attend with the child

For more information on our intervention class, please contact us at firefactor@springsgov.com or call 719-385-7376

Caregiver Resources

FireFactor program for the caregivers of children that have been involved in a firesetting incident or that show a great interest or curiosity about fire. Typically held in conjunction to the FireFactor² program, this educational course provides important information from the fire department in regards to home fire safety, warning signs for risk taking behavior as well as an opportunity to ask questions.

The CSFD has worked to develop a robust Mental/Behavioral Health taskforce made up of area providers who specialize in working with children who have a propensity to set fires. We have made sure that we have providers that will service any client regardless of financial abilities. We are more than happy to provide you with referrals to one of these professionals. Contact us for more information on how to connect with our providers by calling 719-385-7376 or firefactor@springsgov.com.