JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -Jonesboro firefighters have noticed a trend they’re working to stop - juveniles starting fires.
JFD Fire Marshal Jason Wills said Thursday they’ve seen an increase in multiple cases where either a juvenile or a child caused a fire that cost the family their home, and in some cases, severe burns to the child.
“Here recently, we’ve had a quite a few fires that have involved children causing a fire,” Wills said. “We just wanted to reach out and let people know that we have a resource in the Jonesboro Fire Department. We have a Juvenile Firefighter Interventionist and she specializes in working with children who from curiosity, or whatever the reason, they are setting fires or have set accidental fires or things of that nature.”
Wills said the interventionist focuses on the child and their parents to get the situation under control through tools and education.
“There’s a lot that goes on with children and setting fires,” Wills said. “She works closely with the parent to educate them about what’s going on. She works closely with the children. She has a counseling network of counselors that work with that. There’s a lot of different organizations that she can pull from to help the situation. And it’s tailored to the individual child and parents and what’s going on. It’s also an ongoing process of education, training, follow-ups, documentation and more.”
Wills said many parents are very contentious when it comes to dangerous weapons, but many don’t think about a match or lighter.
“A pack of matches or a cigarette lighter could be just as deadly or more deadly than a knife, power tool, gun and those types of things,” Wills said. “Because not only could it kill the child, it could kill everyone in the family. And so, we just want people to know to keep those things out of reach and away from children. And be careful because a lot of times, children are aware if you think something’s hidden and sometimes, more often than not, it may not be hidden.”
Wills said they’re the only city in the state of Arkansas that has anything like this.
“We go to conferences and let other people know that we have this resource available,” Wills said. “It’s important enough that the National Fire Academy has programs and training for this one topic, which is children and fire.”
Wills said having an interventionist is about helping, not hurting.
“We have a tremendous resource in the fire department when it comes to juveniles who have set fires or are setting fires,” Wills said. “We don’t want parents to think this is a way we are looking to get children in trouble or parents in trouble. We are a resource. If a parent has a child that has set a fire in the past or that’s curious about fire, by all means, please call the Jonesboro Fire Marshal’s Division. We have resources here to work with the parents, educate the parents. As well as work with the children and make sure that we’re trying to provide safety for those folks.”
Wills said the resource is available to not only the city of Jonesboro, but others as well.
For more information, call the Jonesboro Fire Department at 870-932-2428.