The Services Aimed at Fire Education and Treatment for Youth (SAFETY) Program is a specialty service directed by faculty and staff affiliated with Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) working in collaboration with the Allegheny County Juvenile Court and the Special Services Unit from Juvenile Probation. SAFETY provides services for children and teens who have shown a strong interest in or preoccupation with fire, played with matches, burned property, set a fire, or used incendiary materials or explosives.

Our program offers individualized assessment, educational, and/or treatment services for children and adolescents who misuse fire. The program also provides consultation and training to providers or agencies.

This service extends more than 30 years of research designed to evaluate the characteristics, course, history, and treatment of child firesetting, supported, in part, by federal (National Institute of Mental Health) and local (State Farm Insurance) grants. Much of this work has developed and documented the benefits of novel educational and clinical interventions, which are now incorporated in our program (Kolko, 1985, 2001; Kolko et al., 2009, 2011).

September 25, 2017: Workshop in London

David Kolko was a featured speaker at a conference on September 25, 2017, in London, England, that was devoted to "Exploring the Spectrum of Firesetting and Arson: Addressing Gaps in Practice". The September 25th event included four other speakers (Shane Blampied, Theresa Gannon, Damian Watts, Jenny-Lee Martins) and more than 60 delegates from 6 countries. Dr. Kolko's presentation provided the an overview of his recent book (with Eric Vernberg) called "Assessment and Intervention with Children and Adolescents Who Misuse Fire," for the Treatments that Work series published by Oxford University Press (2017). Conference organizers were Wendy Cooper Joanna Foster,and Robin Morris-Jones.

April 18, 2017: New Fire Treatment Book

Drs. David Kolko and Eric Vernberg have written a book that provides clinical guidelines to help assess and intervene with children who misuse fire. The book includes numerous examples and worksheets for use with children and their caregivers. Much of the content is based on Dr. Kolko's prior evaluation and treatment studies that are incorporated in the SAFETY program. The book is available now from Oxford University Press.

Staff affiliated with the SAFETY Program

David Kolko, PhD, ABPP
Program Director
Eunice Torres, MS
Program Coordinator
John (Jack) Rozel, MD, MSL Medical Director
Kevin Rumbarger, BA
Assistant Program Coordinator