FireFactor program addresses fire misuse in Colorado Springs youth

Students from Sabin Middle School use remotes to interact to questions during a fire prevention class at their school in October 2013. Jane Zook, center, a safety educator with the CSFD, teaches fire prevention classes to area students.

One young boy just wanted his own bed instead of sleeping on the floor in a bedroom with four siblings. So, he started a fire in his house.

A teenage girl brought a lighter to school to protect herself. She thought if she used it as a weapon, she could scare off the kids who were bullying her.

Students set 39 fires at Pikes Peak region schools in 2017, said Sunny Smaldino, community education and outreach supervisor and a youth fire intervention specialist for Colorado Springs’ Division of the Fire Marshal.

Instead of being sent to juvenile detention, many adolescent offenders — who at ages 8 to 18 have been identified as potentially becoming full-fledged arsonists — are referred to an intense fire intervention program that Colorado Springs fire officials created years ago and recently fine-tuned.

“The goal of this program is that they learn from this and don’t ever do this again,” said Kathy Hook, a youth fire-setting intervention specialist and fire and life safety educator.

With a recidivism rate of less than

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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