Fredericton firefighters deter potential young fire-setters

Firefighters in Fredericton are gaining ground at snuffing out some dangerous behaviour in children.

Program aimed at young people with tendency to set fires and snuff out problem before it develops

Fire department program works to snuff out fire curiosity with juveniles 1:55

Firefighters in Fredericton are gaining ground at snuffing out some dangerous behaviour in children.

Three years ago, the department started a program geared at spotting young people with fire-setting tendencies.

"Sometimes we get parents who will give us a call and say, `Look, my son took a lighter and he lit some stuff in the backyard. Could you talk to him?'" said Insp. Cameron Dunn. "And we'll do that."

Dunn says gettting involved with children while they're still just curious about fire is key.

"That early intervention usually stops any type of fire-setting behaviour," he said.

Cameron briefed Fredericton's public safety committee on the Juvenile Firesetter Intervention program on Tuesday.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase says if the fire department's program geared at intervening with juvenile fire-setters stops one fire, it's worth it. (CBC)
Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase says even if one fire is prevented, it's a good thing.

"Up until this point, I wasn't aware of the degree of emphasis that the Fredericton Fire Department was placing on youth fire prevention, but I'm happy that they are doing it," said Chase.

The four-week program targets children from 2 to 18 years old, providing fire safety information and a home visit. Those involved with the program range from those who are curious about fire, to helping older youths who have a history of setting fires.

Last year, nine cases were referred to the fire department by police, the probation office, or a mental health worker.

Dunn says the program is working.

"We've got some great success stories," he said. "I keep in contact with quite a few of the kids that we've had go through and the contact is positive afterwards. We don't ever deal with them again in a fire situation."

Dunn would like to see the program go province wide. He says there are likely other young people who would benefit from it. But he says without other people referring them, the fire department doesn't see them until it's too late.