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Intervention & Fire Awareness Program (IFAP)

Introduction

Young children often have a natural fascination with fire and sometimes take it a step further by playing with matches and lighters, so it's crucial that parents teach their children at an early age that fire is a tool and not a toy.

The FRNSW runs an Intervention and Fire Awareness Program for children who are playing with fire. Firefighters work with families to help them understand the issues, suggest strategies and develop an action plan.  

The program provides face-to-face and over-the-phone help for families to understand and manage children's fire-starting behaviour.

FRNSW firefighters present the FireED program, which teaches children about the role of firefighters, key fire safety messages like 'get down low and go, go, go' and 'stop, drop and roll' and the importance of calling Triple Zero in an emergency.

The messages that children learn in the FireED program help them to develop a healthy understanding of fire and the role of FRNSW and firefighters from an early age.

To help prevent your child playing with fire, FRNSW recommends:

  • Teach children that fire is not a toy
  • Keep smoking materials such as lighters and matches in a secure place
  • Watch for evidence of fireplay, such as burns on bedding or clothing, or fire-starting devices in children's pockets
  • Ensure children are supervised around fires; and
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms, rehearse a home escape plan and call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

If you know or suspect that your child has been playing with fire, seek help immediately by calling the FRNSW toll-free number 1800 600 700.

Aim

The main aim of the Intervention & Fire Awareness Program (IFAP) is to minimise loss of life, injury and property damage by reducing the frequency and severity of fires started by young people. This is achieved by:

  • Providing access to IFAP for parents, carers or concerned family members via the freecall number 1800 600 700;
  • Supporting and assisting the family, carers and children in dealing with inappropriate juvenile fire lighting behaviours with advice, information and educational resources;
  • Promoting positive and proactive attitudes to safety behaviours by educating the child and the child’s family network about fire safety and encouraging them to take responsibility for fire safety; and
  • Assisting families/carers to find additional support from other government and non-government agencies when appropriate.

IFAP is a structured program involving trained firefighters providing information and education to children and other agencies who encounter a child engaged in unsafe fire related activities. The program includes collaborative partnerships with many other government and non-government agencies to provide additional mental health and social support for juvenile fire setters and their families. IFAP also has a focus on participating in research that will improve our knowledge of child fire setting and guide the development of appropriate intervention strategies.

Objectives

To assist this aim there are four core objectives.

  1. To research, develop, implement and coordinate an Intervention and Fire Awareness Program within FRNSW.
  2. To provide a structured program to assist firefighters and other agencies who encounter a child engaged in unsafe fire related activities.
  3. To provide support to families and individuals who are affected by a child in their care playing with fire in the form of information, advice, educational resources and referral of other agencies that may also assist.
  4. Increased community awareness, education and confidence in regards to juvenile firesetting issues.

Target group

The following groups have been identified as benefiting from participation in FRNSW IFAP:

  • Children up to 17 years of age who exhibit firesetting or fireplay behaviour.
  • Parents or caregivers of the abovementioned children.
  • Schools with students who exhibit firesetting or fireplay behaviour.
  • Specific geographical areas that have been identified as having a disproportionate higher number of fires set by juveniles and it is believed that the IFAP will contribute to a reduction in the number of fires in this area.

Program delivery

  • Coordinates the program across New South Wales;
  • Provides fire safety advice by phone and in some instances face to face and sends educational packages to all IFAP clients;
  • Monitors and regularly reviews IFAP, and
  • Reports on IFAP progress to relevant stakeholders.