Juvenile Fire Setter Program

Juvenile Fire StarterChildren playing with fires are the leading cause of child fire fatalities. The younger the child, the more likely child play was involved in the start of the fire. In short, when children play with fire, they tend to hurt or kill themselves.

Each year, an average of 3,650 children age 14 or younger are injured or killed in residential fires. 40% of these casualties are under the age of five.

About the Program

The Wickliffe Fire Department Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention Program (WFD/JFSP) as an assessment and education program based on a program developed by the Ohio Fire Academy. It consists of structured interviews with the child and other family members in the home. Data from the interview is compiled, and a risk assessment is determined. WFD will conduct fire safety education regardless of the risk determination. However, if the data indicates the need for additional assistance, i.e. counseling, a list of resources will be provided to help the family obtain services. There is no charge to those participating in the WFD/JFSP. Counseling, or other services outside the WFD are at the expense of the JFS family.

Once contact has been made, an appointment will be set to meet with the family in their home to further explain the program and determine if interest exists. After that, family members will be required to meet at WFD for interviews and education. Typically, the WFD program can be completed in 3 to 6 weeks, requiring a once-a-week commitment. Times may very, however, based on scheduling availability.

The WFD/JFSP is administered by Fire Fighter Tony Zorko. Firefighter Zorko received his BA from Cleveland State University in Psychology and Sociology, worked with Lake County Juvenile Detention (1996 to 2007), and was a social worker for Lake County Children's Services (1997 to 1999). Tony has received his JFS training through the Ohio Fire Academy.

What You Can Expect of this Program

  • Honesty - Sometimes it may be difficult to hear "brutal truth" about your child's behavior, but open, honest communication is necessary.
  • Sincerity - We want to assist you with your problem.
  • Confidentiality - Except when required by law, all communications and information gathered through the program is held in strict confidence.

What This Program Will Not Do for You

  • Instantly "cure" your child's fire setting behavior - We will attempt to identify the root cause or causes of your child's behavior. Many times the cause has existed for a long period of time and cannot be changed quickly.
  • Scare your child into ceasing his or her behavior - Most of the time fire play is the symptom of a much deeper problem or even simple curiosity. Scare tactics are ineffective in eliminating the cause and serve to mask the symptom; only to have the behavior surface later. Education and/or counseling can set the child on the right path.
  • Counsel your child to deal with mental health issues - We are not trained mental health counselors. Sometimes children and families need professional counselors to help them resolve underlying problems.

What This Program Expects of You

  • Honesty - We need to know intimate details to accurately assess the root cause of your child's fire setting behavior.
  • Participation - Your participation is necessary to help your child overcome his or her dangerous behavior. Your child needs your support and guidance in this time of self-examination and change.
  • Commitment - We expend a great deal of effort to identify the cause of your child's behavior and educate him or her in regarding fire safety and other developmental issues. We need your commitment to work with us and your child to achieve a successful outcome.

Please email relevant details and contact information to Fire Fighter Tony Zorko (email Tony Zorko), or call the Wickliffe Fire Prevention Bureau at 440-943-7141.