Oregon’s Juveniles with Fire
screening tool
Judith Okulitch
Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
[email protected]
503-373-1540 ext. 230
Learning Objectives
• To understand the screening process in
the intervention of juvenile firesetters
• To gain an understanding of the youth’s
fire behavior for planning intervention
• To practice using Oregon’s Juvenile
With Fire screening tool
• To identify other high risk behaviors that
may correlate with firesetting behavior
Know the hat you wear
Know the hat you wear
Fire investigator
Law enforcement
Monologue designed
between investigator to get a confession or
and youth/parents
an admission of guilt
which gives info
about the fire
Format is question
and answer
Parents don’t need
to be present
Interview process
that uses a set of predetermined
questions and
is more structured
Goal is to help family
stay safe and get the
child /family help
Read Miranda Rights Usually takes place
and document
after the interview
and/or interrogation
Screening Process
• Does not take place until after the youth
has admitted to setting the fire.
• IS NOT an investigative instrument but the
investigator will know many of the answers
to the questions
• Good idea to partner with investigator for
facts of the case
• Is part of the intervention program
Effective firesetter
intervention programs
• Conducting thorough fire investigations
• Screening youth
• Developing intervention optionseducation/referrals/safety plans
• Implementing partnership plans
• Evaluating effectiveness
In Oregon . . .
The fire service in Oregon
determined with their mental
health partners the role to play
in the assessment
Basic Screening
Fire Service
School Counselor
Mental Health Assessment
Marriage/Family Therapist
School Psychologist
Licensed Psychologist, Ph.D.
Psychiatrist, M.D.
Fire incident
Mental Status
Cognitive functioning
Fire history
Family Functioning
Personality traits
Fire knowledge
Social Functioning
Developmental issues
Psychiatric History
Yesterday and Today
• Where we have been in Oregon
– FEMA/Fineman
– Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior
• 130 subjects
• Item response theory (IRT)
• 7 Key Indicators-family, school, crisis, interpersonal relationships,
behavior, prior firesetting history, environmental factors.
• Identification of statistically significant behaviors
• Development of a screening tool
A new screening tool
• Uniform tool used statewide to
insure credibility
• User-friendly
• Time-Sensitive
• Flexible
• Is focused on the fire incident
Screening tool
• Does not predict risk for future
firesetting or to be used in placement
• Is not a pyschometric test
• Firesetting is ALWAYS a HIGH RISK
Behavior--• Must complete a memo of
agreement signed by your agency
director not to change the
instrument or take ownership for it
• The fire service has a different mission
than mental health providers.
• Fire Service Mission--Educate
• Mental Health Providers--Treat
Screening Tool Booklet
Intake Form
Youth Interview
Parent Interview
Parent Checklist
Scoring and Report Writing
Confidentiality Agreement
Safety Contract
Youth Interview
14 Questions:
• 3 Questions about school, peers and crisis
in family
– Is the youth experiencing any school
– How does the youth get along with the others
in the neighborhood?
– Has the family experienced any crisis in the
past six months?
The fire
• 11 Questions focus mainly on the fire
What was set on fire?
– Where was fire set?
– How much planning was done prior to the
– Who was with the youth at the time of the
– What was the youth’s response to the fire?
– How did the youth feel after the fire?
– Was the youth supervised when the fire
occurred at home?
– How knowledgeable is the youth about the
– Does the youth have a fire history?
– Has the youth been burned?
– How concerned was the youth for accepting
responsibility for the fire?
– How was the fire started?
• Answers to the questions are rated 1-3
– 1 indicates that fire department education
would be appropriate intervention (includes
safety plans)
– 2-3 indicates that more extensive evaluation
is needed and safety plans need to be put into
• Keep notes but score after the interview
• In pairs….ask the questions and compile
the answers to response #1 ONLY
• What do you know about this youth and
his/her firesetting behavior?
Level I Youth
• Where?
locations near home, usually in bedrooms,
closets, hiding places or forts
• How?
matches or lighters are readily available
• What?
tissue paper, leaves, small trash
• Behavioral Response?
tries to extinguish the fire or calls for help
Level I Youth
• How does the youth feel?
may show remorse
• How much planning?
may be impulsive
• What about fire knowledge?
limited knowledge about fire
• In a group of three, have one person ask
the question and one person gives the #2
response and the other person gives the
#3 response.
• What do you know about this youth and
his/her firesetting behavior?
What do we know about youth who
give responses at Level 2/3?
• Where?
-Fires are set near or around home or places of
importance to the community - school,church
• What?
-Objects burned are symbolic - own possessions
or possessions of others
-Objects burned may be significant to the
-Directed at a specific person for revenge, out of
anger or to show power - Fire may be used as a
• How much preplanning?
-The youth went out of the way to collect
firesetting materials or may have a “stash” of
lighters, matches.
-Accelerants are used.
-Multiple points of origin.
Is there a prior history?
-Youth has a history of setting fires - or playing
with fire (burning small objects).
Has there been a crisis?
How does the youth get along with
- Fires are set in a group with a ring leader.
- Peers have a bad influence on youth.
• How did the youth respond?
-The youth frequently stays to watch the fire.
-Doesn’t call for help or becomes the hero.
-Youth doesn’t show remorse.
-Showed lack of feeling after fire or are really
-Thinks he/she can control fire.
Parent Interview
• Information gained from parent and child
may differ
• Gives you “clues” to know what fire
education the family needs “What kind of
modeling is going on and what are the
cultural or traditional uses of fire in the
• Helps identify fire history/early fire
Parent Checklist-Self Report
• Keeps parents busy but is not
• Provides good information for the
interviewer and for referral agency
• Items are the “red” flags for at-risk
Red Flag-Behavior
Is physically aggressive or violent
Destroys own or others’ possessions
Is caught fighting or stealing
Expresses anger by hurting others/self
May be depressed
Institute on Violence and Destructive
Behavior,University of Oregon 1998
Relationship to Others
Child is victimized by others
Poor loser
Shows off for peers
Has trouble expressing feelings
Friends are a bad influence (older, more
delinquent kids)
• Has experienced rejection/isolation
Institute on Violence and
Destructive Behavior, University
of Oregon 1998
School Issues
May be hyperactive
Lacks ability to concentrate
Acts impulsively
Refuses to cooperate
Has special education needs,
academically or behaviorally
Institute on Violence and Destructive
Behavior, 1998
Family Issues
• Crisis in family
• Stability in home is lacking (moves
• History of emotional, physical, sexual abuse
• Power struggles with siblings and parents
• Adult unavailable to child
• Harsh punishment/lack of discipline in home
Institute on Violence and Destructive
Behavior, 1998
Website and Phone Number
(503) 373-1540 ext. 230 or 240

Oregon`s Juveniles with Fire screening tool