The prevalence of juvenile-set fires warrants serious consideration. It is this consideration that was the driving force in 2001 that caused the Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC) to recruit and empower the Pennsylvania Child Firesetting and Juvenile Arson Task Force to address the problem. The Task Force was charged with the responsibility of establishing intervention efforts to address the problem associated with juvenile firesetting within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and in developing and implementing statewide juvenile firesetter intervention programs. Task Force members were carefully selected based on their knowledge, experience and interest in the subject and represent the disciplines needed to successfully deal with the problem of child-set fires.
A major accomplishment of the Task Force was the development of a written state standard for juvenile firesetter mitigation and prevention. This standard is entitled "The Pennsylvania Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Protocol" and is the culmination of four years of dedicated work by Task Force members. The Protocol provides the basis for implementing state-wide regional juvenile firesetter intervention programs.
Pennsylvania is one of a very few states that have a written standard addressing juvenile firesetting activity, prevention and intervention. Some of the material developed in the Pennsylvania Protocol was derived from policy and procedures contained in the others states’ standards as well as from the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The original Task Force has transitioned into the Pennsylvania Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Advisory Group, composed of some of the original Task Force members as well as several other state and local agencies and representatives. The JFS Intervention Advisory Group is composed of highly knowledgeable and experienced individuals in the various disciplines who deal with children, youth and adolescents. Pennsylvania’s approach to juvenile firesetting intervention and prevention operates through the JFS Intervention Advisory Group, and is managed by the OSFC Public Education-Information Specialist.