After three major fires across New York City over the last two weeks — one of them in Queens Village — FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro visited Ozone Park for an FDNY fire safety event on Monday to teach children the dangers of playing with fire.
Each of the fires were started by unsupervised children playing with fire and matches. According to a recent study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly 50,000 fires are caused by juveniles playing with fire each year nationwide, resulting in an average of 80 deaths, 860 injuries and more than $235 million in property damage, the FDNY announced.
“In the last 10 days there have been three major fires in our city caused by children playing with fire — destroying or damaging 14 homes and injuring 35 people — including three firefighters who were critically hurt,” Nigro said during his Aug. 22 visit. “These are preventable fires and parents and guardians must ensure the children under their care are properly supervised, and that they don’t have access to matches, lighters, open flames or other potentially dangerous sources of fire.”
According to the FDNY, a four-alarm fire was started in a two-story private dwelling at 636 East 235th Street in the Bronx on Aug. 9. The blaze completely destroyed one building and damaged another three structures. Two firefighters suffered critical injuries at the fire, and a third firefighter from Queens whose unit was sent to provide additional fire coverage was critically injured in an unrelated accident. The cause of the fire was children playing with fire and a dish towel on a stovetop.
Then on Aug. 13, children playing with matches sparked a second alarm fire at 221-30 111th Ave. in Queens Village inside a two-story residential building. The fire caused non-life threatening injuries to four firefighters and four civilians. A third fire on Aug. 18, also started by children playing with matches, burned three homes on Staten Island.
Nigro urged parents who have children that have demonstrated an unhealthy curiosity for fire to reach out to the FDNY’s Juvenile Fire-setters Intervention Program. In the program, specially trained FDNY marshals will evaluate and educate children up to the age of 12 who have engaged in fire play. Parents can contact the program by calling 718-722-3600. They can also visit www.FDNYSmart.org for educational material to help talk to their children about the dangers of fire, as well as ways to help keep their homes fire safe.
For more information on the FDNY Fire Safety Education program, the Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Program, and for fire safety literature in multiple languages, visit the FDNY website.