VFD Warns Citizens About Dangers of Fire Challenge Trend

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News Release: Valdosta Fire Dept.
August 13, 2014

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- The Valdosta Fire Department is teaming-up with National Fire Protection Association and the Phoenix Society to warn Valdosta citizens of the dangers associated with the “fire challenge” trend on social media outlets. The dangerous challenge involves teens pouring a liquid accelerant—such as a hand sanitizer, nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol—on their chests, and then setting them on fire.

“This is a dangerous game that could have a horrifying impact on our community,” said Chief Freddie Broome. “In addition to receiving 2nd and 3rd degree burns, teens expose themselves to superheated gases that could also sear their lungs and cause respiratory complications.”

Chief Broome said the VFD wants to get this message out early during the school year, since peer pressure challenges are usually more prevalent at the being of the school year.

“The VFD is taking a stance against the fire challenge for the safety of our citizens,” said Chief Broome. “We are asking citizens of this community to take a stance with the VFD and pledge to educate and discourage teens from participating in this dangerous nonsense.”

Here are some NFPA suggestions that adult citizens can consider to discourage and prevent youth participation:

  • Become informed on the warning signs and risks of this activity. Have a conversation with teens about the impact of burn injuries and participating in unreasonable risks.
  • Monitor teens’ use of social media. Outlets such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook cause the latest trends to travel at lightning speed. Additionally, the validation from “likes”, “views”, and comments from followers provide a hefty social reward for those who post photos and videos.
  • Recognize that the teen brain (up to about age 25) is under construction. As a result, adolescents do not process rewards and risks the same way as adults do. The teen brain tends to weigh rewards much more heavily than risks.
  • Be involved with teens. It is developmentally important for teens to seek independence, but input from and interaction with adults is still important during this time.
  • Provide opportunities for teens to channel thrill seeking behaviors in healthy ways. These opportunities can be physical activities such as obstacle courses, kayaking, mud runs, hiking and zip lining, for example. Some teens may find excitement in acting in a theatre company, performing in a talent show, visiting an amusement park, running in an election or joining a campaign committee.
  • Flag dangerous YouTube videos. YouTube has a set of Community Guidelines for posting videos. They do remove posts that cross the limits of “Dangerous Illegal Acts” and posts that are “Shocking and Disgusting”. However, YouTube relies on the viewers to flag items that cross the lines. Viewers may click on the flag icon under the number of views to send a warning to YouTube.

For more information, contact the VFD at (229) 333-1836.