What is the Northwestern Fire Intervention Response, Education and Safety program?
NoFIRES’ core mission is to protect our youth, their families and the communities in which they live from the dangerous and sometimes fatal act of setting fires.
A collaboration of law enforcement and social service agencies, NoFIRES is committed to providing youths a consistent, coordinated and appropriate response to youths through the age of 16, who set fires or engage in fire-related behavior. The components of this approach include intervention education and prevention in conjunction with prosecution or other juvenile court action.
How does NoFIRES work?
When there is a fire-related incident involving a juvenile, the authorities may recommend the offender to the NoFIRES program. NoFIRES is a referral-based program, accepting referrals from the following agencies:
State and local police departments
Department of Social Services
Other social service agencies
What happens after a referral has been made?
The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office reviews each case to determine whether the program will be appropriate in connection with a criminal prosecution or some other action. A screening interview of the youth and the youth’s family will be conducted and a determination will follow as to whether the child is an appropriate candidate for the program. If the child is determined to be suitable for the program, a fire safety educational intervention program may be recommended.
The screening interview
The screening interview is the first step into the program. Once the referral is made, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office will notify a screener who will contact you to schedule an appointment to meet with you and your child at your home. The screener could be a firefighter, police officer or mental heath professional who has been trained to conduct screening interviews. It may include two interviewers coming to your home.
The purpose of the screening interview is to find out as much information about the youth and the fire-related incident as well as their experience with fire. The fire related incident will be discussed and specific questions will be asked about the incident, such as frequency, location , method of ignition , degree of sophistication, whether it is a group or solitary act, damage caused by the fire and the reaction of the youth and significant people in his or her life to the fire. The screener will also ask details about the youth’s development, personality, family dynamics and history, education and medical status. The parents will be interviewed as well with similar questions asked.
Fire Safety School
The Northwestern Fire Safety School is an educational intervention program run by local fire departments. Classes are from one to two hours and generally run from 8-14 weeks, depending on the program and needs of the child. The program focuses on preventing further fire-related incidents by encouraging the youth to adopt safe and healthy behaviors associated with fire.