Facts & Statistics

Facts and statistics are the result of research and experience, as well as the vehicle that fuels further discussion and deeper study. More immediately, they can serve as quick and meaningful ways to emphasize the enormity of the youth firesetting challenge to your colleagues.


Did you know?

Children, almost always under the false impression they can control the fires they set, cause nearly 80,000 structure fires per year.1 This results in 760 deaths, more than 3,500 injuries, and costs an estimated $1.2 billion in damage annually. Fortunately, professionals have developed youth specific firesetting treatment programs, which have over a 95% success rate.2, 3

1 [Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 .]
2 [Bennett, BK et al. "Burn Education Awareness Recognition and Support (BEARS): a community-based youth firesetters assessment and treatment program". 27 Feb. 2009 .]
3 [The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. 53 (2002): 260-266.]


Fire Services Facts & Stats

About one in every four fires is intentionally set. Almost half of these fires were set by youths under the age of 18.
["Fire and Youth." Focus Adolescent Services. Feb. 2009 <http://www.focusas.com/Firesetting.html>.]

The items ignited by home fire-play are principally mattresses, bedding or clothing.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

It only takes about two-minutes for the flame from a single match to set an entire room on fire, and less than five minutes for that fire to overtake an entire house.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Fire and burns are the leading causes of unintentional home injury death for 1 to 14 year olds, and the second leading cause of death for children less than 1.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]


Mental Health Facts & Stats

The bedroom is the most common origin point (42%) for fires set by children inside their home.
[National Fire Protection Association, 2009.]

Children in the poorest areas, urban or rural, are at greatest risk from fire.
[FEMA, 2008.]

For children under the age of 15, fire is the 2nd leading cause of non-transportation accidental death.
[FEMA, 2008.]

The highest percentage of school fires occur in middle schools and high schools.
[FEMA, 2007.]

In a recent study, adolescent females set significantly fewer fires, used accelerants less, caused significantly fewer injuries, and were less likely to pull a false alarm than their adolescent male counterparts.
[Robert Stadolnik, Ed.D., Theresa Menela, LICSW. (2009). Is She Cinderella or the Wicked Witch?: An Exploratory Analysis of the Behavioral, Personality and Firesetting Characteristics of Adolescent Females. Abstract retrieved on the 6th of November, 2009.]

While only one out of twenty adolescent boys reported setting a fire in school, one out of five girls reported setting a fire in their school.
[Robert Stadolnik, Ed.D., Theresa Menela, LICSW. (2009). Is She Cinderella or the Wicked Witch?: An Exploratory Analysis of the Behavioral, Personality and Firesetting Characteristics of Adolescent Females. Abstract retrieved on the 6th of November, 2009.]

While females are responsible for approximately 15% of firesetting among children and adolescents they have received less than one half of one percent of research attention.
[Robert Stadolnik, Ed.D., Theresa Menela, LICSW. (2009). Is She Cinderella or the Wicked Witch?: An Exploratory Analysis of the Behavioral, Personality and Firesetting Characteristics of Adolescent Females. Abstract retrieved on the 6th of November, 2009.]

ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Conduct Disorder remain the most frequently reported diagnosis among firesetting youth.
[Robert Stadolnik, Ed.D., Theresa Menela, LICSW. (2009). Is She Cinderella or the Wicked Witch?: An Exploratory Analysis of the Behavioral, Personality and Firesetting Characteristics of Adolescent Females. Abstract retrieved on the 6th of November, 2009.]


Juvenile Justice Facts & Stats

Myth: Seeing someone who has been burned or getting burned will prevent further firesetting.

In 2006, children playing with fire started an estimated 14,500 structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments, causing an estimated 130 civilian deaths, 810 civilian injuries and $328 million in direct property damage.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of all fatal victims of fires by playing are children 5 years old and younger.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

Nearly two out of every three child-playing fires — and four out of five associated deaths and injuries — involve matches or lighters.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

The items ignited by home fire-play are principally mattresses, bedding or clothing.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

In 2006, an estimated 14,500 structure fires involving fire-play were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 130 civilian deaths, 810 civilian injuries, and $328 million in direct property damage, annually.
[Flynn, Jennifer D. "Children Playing with Fire." National Fire Protection Association. Jan. 2009 <www.nfpa.org>]

For well over 15 years, youth have contributed significantly to the number of arsons in the United States. In 2001, they represented 49 percent of all arson arrests. Many additional blazes set by youths go undetected, unreported, or unsolved.
["Juvenile Arson: the importance of early intervention" The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Apr. 2005]

Nearly 85-percent of the victims of child-set fires are the children themselves.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Nationally, playing with fire is the leading cause of death in residential fires for young children.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Children are under the false impression that they can control the fires they set.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Many children who set fires lack both parental supervision and fire safety education.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Nationally, children who play with fire cause nearly 80,000 structure fires per year which result in approximately 760 deaths and more than 3,500 injuries.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Youth firesetting causes an estimated 1.2 Billion dollars in damage annually.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

It only takes about two minutes for the flame from a single match to set an entire room on fire, and less than five minutes for that fire to overtake an entire house.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

Fire and burns are the leading causes of unintentional home injury death for 1 to 14 year olds, and the second leading cause of death for children less than 1.
[Burn Institute. 27 Feb. 2009 <www.burninstitute.org>.]

A 2002 study in Illinois reported that out of the 42 children who went through their treatment program, none returned to fire-setting behaviors.
[Bennett, BK et al. "Burn Education Awareness Recognition and Support (BEARS): a community-based youth firesetters assessment and treatment program". 27 Feb. 2009 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov>.]

A 1999 study conducted by the Trauma Burn Outreach Prevention Program found that youth firesetters who went though their program had essentially no recidivism.
[The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. 53 (2002): 260-266.]

Youth firesetter intervention programs are successful in reducing firesetting behavior. According to NFPA, without intervention more than 75 percent of youths who have played with or set fire will do it again.
[Franklin, Glen A. MD; Pucci, Pamela S. RN; Arbabi, Saman MD, MPH; Brandt, Mary-Margaret MD; Wahl, Wendy L. MD; Taheri, Paul A. MD, MBA. "Decreased Youth Arson and Firesetting Recidivism after Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Prevention Program". Annual Meeting Articles. <http://www.jtrauma.com>.]

If untreated, 85% of the children will continue to light fires.
[Woonsocket Fire Department. 27 Feb. 2009 <http://www.woonsocketfire.org/Juvinillefiresetters.htm>.]

Woonsocket Rhode Island has a firesetter program, which 250 children and families have participated in in the last 7 years. The Firesetter program has a 95.8% success rate, with only a 4.2% recidivism rate.
[Woonsocket Fire Department. 27 Feb. 2009 >http://www.woonsocketfire.org/Juvinillefiresetters.htm>.]

Youth Firesetting programs work. An eight site FEMA study in North America treating 766 young Firesetters, found a 1.25% recidivism rate 11 months after treatment.
[<http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/pdf/145135.pdf>]

Without a comparison group, however, it is not known whether this recidivism rate would have occurred without any intervention. Williams and Jones (1989) examined the effects of fire safety skills training on young firesetters in the UK, noting improvements in participants’ responses to emergency fire situations at a 5-month follow up compared with a control group of firesetters who received no intervention. However, both studies had only short follow-up periods of less than one year after completion of the programmes.
[The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Eland House Bressenden Place "Evaluation of interventions with arsonists and young Firesetters". Page 16. March 2005 <http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/pdf/145135.pdf>.]

In a 2002 study with 132 youth attending a 1 day program, only 1 re-offended during the follow-up period of 8 months to 2.5 years.
[The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Eland House Bressenden Place. "Evaluation of interventions with arsonists and young Firesetters". Page 17. March 2005 >http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/pdf/145135.pdf>.]

Only 12% of United States Fire Departments have a staff member assigned exclusively to fire and life safety education.
["State of Home Safety in America report." Home Safety Council. 2004. 17 Mar 2009 <http://www.homesafetycouncil.org>.]

Arrests of youth for the crime of arson were higher, proportionally, than for any other crime.
[FBI Uniform Crime Reporting, 2006.]

Youth account for more than half of the arson arrests, with one-third of those children under the age of 15, and nearly four percent under age ten.
[Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2005.]

Youth arrested for arson increased from 1980 to 1996:
Trends in Age Profiles

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