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Youth Fire Intervention Program

The goal of this community-focused fire intervention program is to teach youth, who misuse fire or who have started dangerous and unsupervised fires, fire responsibility. In the program, they learn how to be proactive in protecting their family, tribal community, and natural resources from wildfire. The program uses a multi-disciplinary coalition and restorative justice driven fire prevention, safety, and survival curriculum approach to address the needs of the youth involved.

Program Elements
  • Establishes a community coalition of Tribal agencies to address the needs of youth
  • Conducts training to identify and assess the severity of a youth's fire-setting behavior
  • Offers a diversion program that requires youth to complete community service projects to earn back the trust of their tribal community
  • Educates youth about fire safety, fire survival, and the serious legal, financial, and social costs of setting fires in Indian Country
Results for Communities

Economic - reduces the threat of wildfire which lowers the loss of life and damage to Tribal property and natural resources

Cultural - instills respect for ceremonial traditions and sites and helps protect sacred lands

Livable Communities - provides communities that allow people to live, learn, work and play that are safe from wildfires

Q & A
  • Q: Why do kids set fires?

A: The motivations behind fire setting behaviors are as diverse as the communities in which they are occurring. Whether acting out of curiosity, boredom, peer pressure, anger, or in response to a family or personal crisis, youth need to be taught to understand that this behavior has devastating consequences on their communities when the fires get out of control.

  • Q: How do we get a program started?

A: Initial communications focus on gaining Tribal Council support for the initiation of the program. The Regional BIA Wildland Prevention Specialist begins by meeting with the Tribal and/or BIA fire programs to discuss fire occurrence data, desired outcomes, and potential coalition partners. Once the Tribal Council signs a Resolution, a Youth Fire Intervention Program Coordinator will be dispatched to work with Tribal representatives to implement the program.

  • Q: Why a coalition approach to intervention and who are the members of the coalition?

A: Youth who engage in fire setting behavior often have a multitude of personal and/or family issues. A coalition of professionals who already work with youth can help fire personnel identify the underlying problem that causes the fire setting behavior and assist in developing appropriate intervention strategies.

The Coalition may include members of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Wildland Fire Prevention team, Behavioral Health, Child Protective Services, local Fire Department, Juvenile Court and Prosecution, Law Enforcement and cultural and recreational resources. All members of the coalition are devoted to the idea that children can and must receive basic fire safety and survival education. There may be a need to provide additional assistance in the mental health and protective services areas.

  • Q: What kind of training is available?

A: The Youth Fire Intervention Program (YFIP) hosts a two-day course to train fire personnel and community partners on how to coordinate a YFIP for their Tribe.

The training consists of:

  • Understanding and identifying the youth fire setting problem
  • Collecting fire incident data including the time, location, and objects burned in the fire
  • Practice interviewing youth and parents
  • Learning how to use a screening instrument to make referrals and develop safety and supervision plans
  • Providing educational intervention
  • Implementing community service projects

Participants will receive a “How-to” manual with data collection forms, the BIA Youth Fire Screening tool and several age and culturally appropriate educational intervention curricula.

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