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Merrimac Fire Dept.
16 East Main Street 
Merrimac, MA 01860
(978) 346-8211 (business)
(978) 346-9227 (facsimile)
Frequency 158.955

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Members of the Merrimac Fire Department offer the following courses:

  • Child & Babysitting Safety 
  • Fire safety and awareness  
  • Fire extinguisher instruction
  • Senior safety 
  • Juvenile firesetters intervention
  • CPR & first aid instruction

What Is S.A.F.E.?

The Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) Program is a state initiative to provide resources to local fire departments to conduct fire and life safety education programs in grades K-12. The mission is to enable students to recognize the dangers of fire and more specifically the fire hazards tobacco products pose.

Key Fire Safety Behaviors

There are 23 Key Fire Safety Behaviors which are taught in age and developmentally appropriate ways, such as:

    • Stop, Drop, and Roll 
    • Making and Practicing Home Escape Plans 
    • Reporting Fires and Emergencies 
    • 911 Education
    • Crawl Low Under Smoke 
    • Smoke Detector Maintenance 
    • Kitchen Safety 
    • Holiday Safety 
    • Candle Safety and more 
Fire and life safety is easily combined with math, science, language arts, health, and physical education lessons. Integration into the existing curriculum topics is essential. 


  • Training children reduces anxiety levels so they are able to react to stressful situations 
  • Fire, School, Health and Police Departments working together to help children survive 
  • Family medical and health care cost reductions 
  • Firefighter as a role model 
  • Fires, burns and deaths reduced. 
Proven Success

Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 150 children throughout the Commonwealth who participated in the S.A.F.E. Program have saved themselves or a loved one, and were honored as Young Heroes by the Department of Fire Services. Some success stories are:

  • A 12-year old boy blocks smoke by closing the door and covering cracks with a blanket to save four younger siblings. 
  • A girl leads her brother to safety by crawling low under smoke in the house to outdoors. 
  • A boy calls rescuers on 9-1-1 to save his sister from choking. 
  • Smoke detector awakens 7-year old who rouses the family and instructs them to "get out." 
  • Family who rehearsed home escape plan as a homework assignment use it to get out alive. 
How Is S.A.F.E. Funded?
  • The careless use and disposal of smoking materials is the single leading cause of fire deaths in the state and in the country. 
  • Due to the tremendous risk of injury and death in fires started by tobacco products, the Legislature appropriated funding from monies raised through the cigarette sales tax. 
  • Voters approved this tax to fund programs aimed at combating tobacco use. 
How does the Department of Fire Services help?

DFS provides programmatic support to local S.A.F.E. Programs through in-service training, site visits and technical assistance. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy provides training to fire educators. Fiscal Affairs manages the financial side of the grant applications.

Who to Contact

For more information on the S.A.F.E. program from Merrimac Fire or to have a Public Fire & Life Safety Educator speak to your group or organization, please contact S.A.F.E. Coordinator Michael McLeieer at (978) 346-4731 or (978) 346-8211 or click on the link under the name to send an e-mail message.  If you are located outside of the town of Merrimac, we will be happy to connect you with a Public Fire & Life Safety Educator in your area.

River Valley Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Program (RVJFIP)
Arson is the number one crime committed by juveniles, The US Fire Administration reports that one third of all set fires are begun by children, one third of all children that are killed in fires have set the fires themselves, and fire is the leading cause of deaths in the home for children under the age of five in the U.S. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, children playing with fire is the fourth leading cause of fires that kill. Arson is the second leading cause of residential fire deaths and accounts for approximately 25% of all fires in the United States.  Juvenile arson accounts for over 50% of arson arrests, the highest FBI indexed crime involving juveniles. Hundreds are seriously burned or injured each year when children who are curious start fires.

Children and Fire

Children are fascinated by fire; the warm glow of a fireplace, flames flickering in a camp fire, blowing out birthday candles, watching the repetitive habit of an adult lighting up a cigarette. Children as young as 2 years may show an interest in fire.  With this natural fascination and curiosity comes the task for parents/caregivers to take fire safety precautions with younger children and to educate and train older children in fire safety.

Whether a child is merely curious about fire, making a cry for help or engaging in delinquent behavior, children playing with fire is extremely dangerous. Children can be helped. They must received the right kind of help though. It is not a phase that they will grow out of, it is not a matter of boys being boys. Yelling at them, burning their fingers or other such methods will not be effective. The reason a child plays with fire must be addressed in order to successfully address the problem. Each child must be individually assessed and receive a treatment program that may contain one or more of the following components: educational, psychological, and community service.


What is Fireplay?

Fireplay happens when a child, curious and unsupervised, plays with matches, lighters, an open flame or a hot stove. This playing accidentally starts a fire that may result in death injury and/or property damage.
The most common circumstances that lead children to play with fire include:

  • Matches, lighters or open flames within easy reach 
  • Lack of parental or adult supervision 
  • Natural curiosity about fire and a desire to experiment 
  • Boredom and searching for something to play with 
  • Previous fire play activity (the fire was easily extinguished and not discovered by an adult) 
  • Most children who get involved in fire play can be successfully taught by parents or caregivers to channel their fire interest to competent fire safety behaviors and avoid this extremely dangerous behavior.


In some children, fascination and fireplay turn into intentional and repeated firesetting behaviours. These children usually have underlying psychological or social problems, and account for 40% of all children who start fires. Helping these children includes stopping firesetting behaviour immediately and correcting the underlying problems that caused the behavior.  Juvenile firesetting is a dangerous behavior that cannot be stopped without appropriate intervention, intervention that addresses why the child sets fires. 

Warning Signs (Red Flags)


  • Child has ADHD and family is having trouble managing this problem
  • Child has had fire safety education, knows that firesetting is wrong and is 8 or older
  • Child has been severly punished for firesetting
  • Child is the victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Child experiences an anxiety release from fires
  • Child has intense feelings of powerlessness or has trouble controlling impulses
  • Child is a member of a gang or has a history of aggressive criminal behaviors
  • Child relies extensively on thinking errors and is extremely uncooperative with assessment
  • Child has been unsuccessfully treated for firesetting; the family is unable or unwilling to support intervention 
  • Bed or bedroom fire
  • Fires are set to specific materials related to stress
  • Recent changes in the family
  • Chronic history of firesetting with progression
  • Bizarre or ritualistic firesetting
  • Uses fire to torture/injure animals, self or others
  • Obsessive/compulsive fire thoughts/behaviors 

When to Seek Help

If your child has "played" with fire on more than one occasion or has deliberately started a fire, or if you are unsure about educating your child about fire safety, you should seek help through your local Fire Department. Merrimac Fire Department has trained personnel who can help the curious child to understand that playing with fire is very dangerous. Deliberate firesetting is a serious matter. Children who have deliberately started a fire may be indirectly indicating that they are having problems.

Who to Contact

The Merrimac Fire Department believes that a coordinated, consistent and appropriate response using treatment, education, deterrence, and prevention is the best method to reduce the risk of fire to youth, their families, and their communities.  The RVJFIP will service children between the ages 3-17 who have exhibited fire related behavior that has come to the attention of fire, police, courts, parents, schools, the department of social services, and housing authorities. 

The RVJFIP staff reviews each case to determine whether the program will be instituted in connection with a criminal prosecution or some other action.  Once referred, a screening interview may be conducted to determine if the child is an appropriate candidate for the program.   All information remains confidential.  If the child is determined suitable for the program, he or she will be required to attend a Fire Safety school.  When necessary, a mental health evaluation and treatment might be recommended to the child and their family. 

For more information on the RVJFIP from Merrimac Fire or to become involved in the program, please contact Firefighter/Educator Michael McLeieer or Firefighter/Educator Scott Maker at (978) 346-4731 or (978) 346-8211 or click on the link under either name to send an e-mail message.  If you are located outside of the town of Merrimac, we will be happy to connect you with a fire educator in your area.