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Glendale (Arizona) Fire Department's Youth Firesetter Intervention Program

Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Webb shows a young boy the scars from burns he received when he was burned at age 13.

Glendale Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Webb shows a young boy the scars from burns he received at age 13 as a result of the misuse of fire.

Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Webb shows Kross Thomas the scars from burns he received at age 13 as a result of the misuse of fire, which included hitting a hairspray-soaked tennis ball with a flaming baseball bat. Webb recovered after more than a month in the Arizona Burn center and 18 surgeries. Since 2004, Webb shares his story with youth firesetters as a member of the Glendale Fire Department's Youth Firesetter Intervention Program.

The Glendale Fire Department's Youth Firesetter Intervention Program provides customized educational interventions based on the availability of the family. The primary goal of the Youth Firesetter Intervention Program is to identify children at risk for participating in unsupervised firesetting incidents and then providing educational intervention in an attempt to stop the firesetting behavior. The program is offered, free of charge, to any Valley youth between the ages of 3 and 17. The lessons include fire safety education, fire science, the consequences of firesetting, burn injuries, choices, and Arizona arson and fireworks laws. The program also provides a parent education on home fire safety, the Arizona arson and fireworks laws, consequences of youth firesetting, responsibility, and decisionmaking.

Glendale Fire Department's Youth Firesetter Intervention Program views youth firesetting as a community problem and, as such, it deserves community-wide attention. Although fire departments may take the lead role in developing programs for children and adolescents involved in firesetting, their efforts alone will not resolve the problem. It is crucial that there be working linkage established between the various community agencies capable of helping the youth and their families. Schools, the fire service, law enforcement, youth justice, and mental health professionals must all establish open communication channels with one another so that an organized effort is mounted to reduce youth involvement in firesetting- and arson-related activities.

The program is managed by Dr. Janet A. Boberg, who played an integral the development of the NFA's Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialist curriculum and is a contract instructor for the NFA's Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention course.