The State Fire Marshal's Office, headed by Chad Cross, has published a litany of tips on youth fire prevention.

In a press release on Wednesday, the SFMO identified household items - lighters, matches - that are potentially ruinous in inexperienced hands. These items should be kept far away from children.

Older children and adolescents may come under "peer pressure to misuse fire," or have troublesome, fire-prone friends. It is crucial that children be taught how to disengage from this sort of destructive peer pressure.

The SFMO counseled grownups not to chastise youthful "curiosity." In fact, when it comes to youth fire prevention, carrot works better than stick. Wednesday's press release recommends "praise for showing respectful and age-appropriate, responsible behavior toward fire."

But, the SFMO cautioned, adults should be vigorous in discouraging unsupervised "experimentation" or horseplay involving volatile flammables.

The financial toll in and of itself is jarring. In 2022 alone, according to the press release, there were 68 documented fires in Washington that stemmed from "playing with a heat source." These fires incurred hefty damages; nearly $700,000 worth.

Cross is a nine-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol. He was appointed to his current post by Chief John Batiste in September 2022.

Each year children in the U.S. set thousands of fires. The vast majority are non-malicious, but death and injury do not discriminate. Fires started by child's play kill 150 people annually, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The SFMO's press release concluded by encouraging uneasy parents to call their local fire department. Alternatively, they can contact the SFMO itself at (360) 596-3904.

Natrona County Fire District Celebrates Fire Prevention Month at Fort Caspar

October 2023

Gallery Credit: Kolby Fedore

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