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Fire marshal's office honored

November 07, 1997

The city fire marshal's office received the Governor's Crime Prevention Award Friday for its program to educate first-time juvenile fire setters.

Hagerstown Assistant Fire Marshal John Hersh said the program has been expanded and revamped since it began in 1985.

Hersh said about 100 first-time juvenile fire setters a year now go through the program, which teaches them the consequences of their actions, fire safety, and why fire should never be a toy.

Repeat juvenile offenders can be incarcerated until their 18th birthday, Hersh said.

The kids also must sign a contract saying they won't play with fire in the future.

The programs are held monthly at Children's Village.

Hersh said about half of the arsons in Hagerstown are caused by juveniles. Parents of first-time fire setters older than age 7 who have caused little damage are given the option of having their children referred to the juvenile justice system or go through the fire marshal's program.

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Children younger than 7 years old are not considered responsible for their actions, although several serious fires this year have been started by children who are 4, 5 or 6 years old, Hersh said.

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