Youth Fire Awareness
Thursday 19-Jul-2012 10:04
The NT Fire and Rescue Service are encouraging parents and carers of young children to address fire safety and awareness in their home.
Police and Fire Investigators continue to work together to investigate reports of suspicious behaviour around bushfires including youths seen acting suspiciously ahead of the recent fires in the Howard Springs area.
Fire Investigation Manager, Peter Van Boxtel said grass fires increase during school lunch breaks and school holidays and he holds a firm belief that many are being deliberately lit.
“There is no doubt that youths start fires with excuses ranging from curiosity, peer pressure to malicious intent.
“Much of this risky fire setting behaviour starts in the home with children as young as four so this is where intervention needs to begin.
“We know fire experimenting among young children is more likely among boys under the age of 12 and when at least one parent or carer in the home is a smoker.
“I encourage all parents to ensure matches and lighters are safely stored for adult reach and use only, homes should have fire blankets, extinguishers, a home escape plan and working smoke alarms.
“Keep an eye out for risky behaviour. While it is normal for children to have an interest in fire, it is not normal behaviour to want to repeatedly play with it by possessing matches or lighters and burning household items.
“If parents notice risky fire behaviour, they can refer their children to join the NTFRS Juvenile Fire Awareness and Intervention Program.
“As part of this program, we already deliver presentations to young school children and work with individuals such as those referred through juvenile diversion programs.
“We have worked with 35 individuals during the 2011-2012 financial year, referred from a variety of places ranging from parents, to the Courts. This is an increase from previous years since the program commenced in 2005.
“These 35 cases were aged between 8 and 17 and the intervention ranged from a single visit, to delivery of a 4 week program.
“It can be quite intense, including information on burns and first aid, the law, consequences of fire lighting, fire travel speeds and understanding fuel.
“Parents of children previously referred to this program have provided very positive feedback, reporting that their children haven’t played with matches again, have an increased respect for fire, are more mature about fire safety including educating their own peers and display increased self esteem.” Fire Investigation Manager, Peter Van Boxtel said.
The NTFRS has 6 fire personnel trained in this area, delivering interventions and proactive presentations throughout the Territory.
The program is free, home-based and confidential to address unsafe fire behaviour by children and young people in addition to fire safety measures which the whole household can employ.
The program is best suited for children aged between 4 and 17 years old.
To request further information about the program, contact your local Fire Station.
Anyone with information in relation to deliberately lit fires should contact Police on 131 444.
Territory Case example
During 2012, a 10 yr old male was setting fires in his neighbourhood as a result of peer pressure. He suffered burns as a result of his fire lighting activity and was referred to NTFRS by his school teacher.
During the intervention program, he admitted his actions and outlined them. Intervention included discussion around the consequences of his actions and the impact on the community, fire safety and first aid. He was also educated with regards to the speed of fire and strategies for making better decisions including managing peer pressure.