A school fire reporting law (M.G.L. C. 148, S.2A) was enacted in 2006 requiring school principals to immediately report ALL fires to the local fire department, regardless of size, or who put it out. Fire officials know that all fires start small, so every fire has the potential to rob the community of a valuable asset - the school itself.

Adults Must Respond to Juvenile Firesetters: All Fires Start Small
Juvenile firesetters will continue to set fires until they receive appropriate intervention. The sooner a child's cry for help is heard the sooner the child will receive help. No adult does a child with a firesetting problem any good if they do not react appropriately and swiftly. If schools have a series of fires but only call fire and law enforcement officials when "they have a big one", then none of that pattern of fire setting can be used to make the case for getting a student the help they need, and in the mean time, the entire school community is placed at risk.

Causes of School Fires
Juvenile firesetting is not the only cause of school fires. The Mass. Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS, 2012) indicates 9% of school fires are intentionally-set, 26% are indoor rubbish fires for which cause is not collected but should be considered intentionally-set, and juvenile firesetting accounts for 2%. Since most school fires occur when school is in session, the data indicates 37% of school fires are most likely started by the students themselves. Cooking is the leading cause of fires in schools, where 44% of school fires start. In 2012, there were 207 fires in schools that caused $8 million in property damage. The Department of Fire Services has fire prevention information for schools.

M.G.L. C. 148, S.2A: Reporting of fires in School
The principal of any public or private school that provides instruction to pupils in any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, shall immediately report any incident involving the unauthorized ignition of any fire within the school building or on school grounds to the local fire department. The principal shall submit a written report of the incident to the head of the fire department within 24 hours on a form furnished by the Department of Fire Services. The report shall be filed without regard to the extent of the fire or whether there was a response by the fire department. The head of the fire department shall report such incident to the marshal in accordance with section 2.

M.G.L. C. 71, S 37L: School Committee Responsibilities
Section 37L. The school committee of each city, town or regional school district shall inform teachers, administrators, and other professional staff of reporting requirements for child abuse and neglect under section 51A of chapter 119 and the reporting requirements for fires under section 2A of chapter 148.