Youth Fire Intervention Program

For children, interest in fire is natural. Setting fires is not! Children see fire from the time they are born. It's celebrated from their very first birthday candle. So it's natural for them to be fascinated by it. Unfortunately, they have little understanding about the dangerous consequences of uncontrolled fire.

Youth Fire Setting Facts

  • 75% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 experiment with fire.
  • The median age children begin experimenting with fire is 5.
  • 53% of all arson arrests are children.
  • For every 100 people who die in fires in the United States, 24 are killed because of children playing with fire.

    Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Fire Prevention Safety Tips

  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children.
  • If your child expresses curiosity about fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults only.
  • Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features. Remember, child-resistant does not mean child proof.
  • Teach children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.
  • Never leave matches or lighters in a place where children may go without supervision.
  • If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or playing with fire, get help. (see below)

    Source: National Fire Protection Association

Youth Fire Intervention Program

In an effort to curb youth fire setting, Springfield, Nixa, Willard, Ozark, Logan-Rogersville, Battlefield and Branson are among the area fire departments that have joined to form the Southwest Missouri Youth Fire Intervention (YFI) Coalition.

Members of participating departments were trained by the National Fire Academy on how to recognize juvenile firesetting and administer a program to address the problem. Participating departments met over a four month period to develop a program that could be used across Southwest Missouri.

The goal of the Southwest Missouri Youth Fire Intervention program is to provide a regional, high quality, no-cost (to the juvenile) community betterment program. The intent of the program is to reduce juvenile initiated fires and fire-related injuries. The program is designed to provide fire safety education and limited counseling to children 3 through 16 years old. 

YFI Referrals

The YFI Coaltion will receive referrals about children who are known to play with fire or set fires.  Referral sources include:

  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Juvenile Officers
  • Fire Officials
  • Hospitals
  • Friends
  • Others
To refer a child to the Youth Fire Intervention Program, fill out a referral form
Members of the YFI team will conduct assessments to determine the child's level of repeat fire setting risk. Based on the assessment, the child will be referred to the YFI education program, counseling or both. The YFI education program will be conducted by local departments and include age-appropriate lessons on fire safety and prevention. 


Children who qualify for fire safety education will receive two or three age-appropriate lessons ranging from 30 minutes to one hour.

Younger children's topics include:

  • fire is a tool not a toy
  • how to prevent fires
  • how to escape a smoke-filled room

Older children will learn:

  • the science of fire
  • how to prevent it
  • consequences of juvenile fire setting


Another key component of the Youth Fire Intervention program is counseling. Children whose assessments place them in the definite or extreme risk categories will be referred to one free counseling session. YFI counseling will be conducted by Ozarks Counseling Center and funded by Mercy.