Madison Fire Department educates youth on fire setting

Madison fire officials said that with Arson Awareness Week, they hope to focus on reducing the frequency of youth engaging in fire-setting.

Awareness Week begins May 6 and the Madison Fire Department Children and Fire Program is working to educate children who might have started a fire or set off a false fire alarm.

A child might be referred to the program through his or her school system, Madison police, concerned parents or guardians or the juvenile justice system, among other services, according to a Fire Department news release.

The U.S. Fire Administration reported children started an average of 56,300 fires nationally. Some 110 people died in these fires; 880 were injured, and there were $286 million in direct property damages per year between 2005 and 2009.

On March 20, 2011, an abandoned building on the 500 block of Highland Avenue in Madison caught fire. The building was scheduled to be knocked down. It took the Madison Fire Department 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze.

A little over a week later, Madison police arrested three teenagers — 14, 15 and 17 years old — in connection with the fire and sent them to the Juvenile Reception Center. The court found the three teens guilty and placed them under home detention where they had to wear a bracelet monitoring device and pay for the damages.

Officials encourage people to contact the Children and Fire Program if they believe they know a child involved in setting fires.

Fire officials offered some prevention tips:

Never leave matches or lighters within reach of children. Keep them in high, locked cabinets. Praise your child for responsible behavior and showing respect for fire. Set a good example by using matches, lighters and fire carefully. Children will imitate positive behavior.