Hagaon HaRav Shlomo Miller Shlita: If You See Someone Starting a Fire, Report Him to Authorities; Statements from LFD and LPD Chiefs

Over the last few years, there have been numerous fires in Lakewood, some which were deliberately started by irresponsible kids who decided it was a fun thing to do.

In some instances, the fires damages properties, some severely.

But in many of the incidents, including as recently as last week, children who lit them ran off and were never apprehended. In addition, children or adults who witnessed the acts of arson, decided not to cooperate with authorities due to fear of ‘Mesirah’.

However, with the number of these type of incidents growing, especially during Bein Hazmanim while many children are bored and have no structure to their days, a number of Askonim – as well as regular homeowners – reached out to TLS, recommending we reach out to a Halachic Authority with regards to Mesirah in such situations and with regards to publicizing a P’sak on it.

TLS reached out to Hagaon HaRav Shlomo Miller Shlita, of the leading Poskim of today, who stated clearly that there is no issue of Mesirah in such situations. If you witness someone starting a fire, you should warn the person to stop, and if it is not immediately stopped, authorities should be called on the suspect.

Asking if we could publicize this in his name, Harav Miller answered, “Yes, this is what the Torah says.”

In response to recent fires, TLS also reached out to both Lakewood Fire Chief Jon Yahr, as well as Police Chief Greg Meyer for statement.

“As Fire Chief, it deeply concerns me to address the recent spate of dumpster and brush fires that have been intentionally set, reportedly by children,” LFD Fire Chief Jon Yahr told TLS. “These reckless acts not only endanger lives and property but also strain our emergency response resources. What may seem like ‘just kids playing’ can have devastating consequences, including the potential loss of life. Nuisance fires divert valuable personnel and equipment away from potential life-threatening emergencies. In the event of another fire, the resources tied up in responding to these avoidable incidents could mean the difference between life and death.”

Yahr is also urging parents to take this very seriously.

“I urge parents and guardians to have frank discussions with their children about the grave consequences of fire play,” Yahr stated. “Education and vigilance are paramount in preventing such incidents in the future. We are committed to working closely with law enforcement and community partners to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighborhoods.”

Lakewood Police Chief Greg Meyer is also warning parents there are serious consequences, including jail, for these deliberate acts.

“Setting fires for amusement is not only an extremely dangerous thing to do but it is also illegal,” said Chief Meyer. “Not only could you get injured you could cause injury to others. Depending on your age at the time of setting a fire you could be put in jail. Even juveniles are sent to detention for setting fires.

Chief Meyer added, that “Parents can also be held accountable for their children’s actions and arrested and charged as well.”

With Pesach and the summer season approaching, Chief Meyer also warned about people lighting Biur Chometz fires, as well as lighting fireworks.

“Do not play with fire or fireworks as they may be hazardous as well. When religious burning is held whether for Passover or Lag B’omer, the fire Marshall works with the local fire department to make these events safe for everyone. Every year the township spends thousands of dollars to host a fireworks show and there are many around the county for free as well. Parents are urged to educate and supervise their children and students.”

Chief Meyer concluded by urging witnesses to call police.

“Please report anyone setting fires or playing with fire right away to the police department at 732-363-0200.”

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  1. Thank You
    Injecting children with poison and feeding them poison is a lot worse – and much more prevalent. Therefore, one will have to take into account that even with a psak such as this, if you can’t say you practice what you preach, as far as I would imagine, you have no heter mesira, as you contradict yourself.
    This will have to be ascertained.
    Major experts say that it is crystal clear that children and young adults who got Covid vax were far more likely to die from it (and many did) than from Covid (as no child in the WORLD died form Covid – unless he “also” had cancer or diabetes). (And it helped no one of any age.) Food for through.
    Make sure to ask a major shaila before proceeding.
    There are many such things in life – something seems straightforward, then you find out it applies differently to you.
    About the police, I respect them and the gov, but in England, for example, when a group stood outside a police station to report the Covid atrocities being perpetrated in a hospital right down the block, (starvations, not giving HCQ, giving Remdesivir – which killed people), the police said ‘get away’.
    All politics and money. (Because hospitals/Big Pharma made much more money from Remdesivir than HCQ). Sorry. Not everything is as meets the eye at first glance.
    Call fire dept. by all means, and no one should be lighting fires, but you can’t be malshin on something far smaller and less prevalent that what the average of society does — and big “professionals” heavily advertise (because made much money) and pushed on people. Food for thought!!!

  2. Das Torah hepach das bal habas
    If your animal harms someone you are michuyiv if your kid (a kutun under 13) you are puter….

    • Therefore?
      Literally everything you said had nothing to do with the article.
      “Das Torah hepach…” we are discussing HaRav Shlomo Miller. Unless your point was that you have das bal habayis, that was absolutely irrelevant.

      You being chayav for your animals and not your children is not a chidush to most of us, it’s also irrelevant to the conversation. For the most part we are discussing preventative measures. Although you may not be chayav momon for your children, you are chayav in chinuch for them. It is also not mutar for them to be mazik others. And regardless of whether you hold isho mishum chitzo or mishum momono, it is certainly hezek.

      Maybe you should focus on actually learning this bein hazmanim instead of praving being a “yeshiva man”

  3. Anyone who has boys knows that it’s cool and in style to be “into” and to “looove” fire. Pyromania suddenly became ok. I’ve been saying this for years and people laughed at me.

  4. Does sending 10 police cars for someone making a wedding in their backyard also strain emergency response resources? asking for a friend

    • And again, nothing personal on police – we certainly respect their help, and we respect the law. But there is a protocol to how we do things, and additional shailos must be asked – as I said in my first comment.
      BTW, the police enforcing the governor’s executive order about limits for the number of people on properties turns to to be incorrect, as an executive order is not binding on anyone, it is just a “precedent” that local jurisdictions can follow, if they so choose to enact an ordinance. (Otherwise the governor can make any law on his own.)
      The problem was that most people did not know that – that the police have no authority to enforce an executive order. There were those who knew it (in various areas of the US) , and there are some cool videos of tough police — trying to throw them out of stores for not wearing a mask, for example — melting when they said that they have to authority to enforce.

      Again, of course no one should be making illegal fires, and it should be explained to them that it is illegal and dangerous. But mesira is extremely serious, and you cannot contradict yourself. Moreover as is being noted in several posts here, if they police/gov. itself contradicts itself – in the very matters of life and death, with all due respect, how can you be moser to them?!?!

  5. I will absolutely dial 911 and request the police respond ASAP when I see an arsonist at ANY age and attending ANY type of school.

    These boys show total disregard to innocent families lives and homes. They deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law. Fires spread very quickly and the chevra kadisha doesn’t need any more business.

    If the hanhala or parents can’t get a leash around these troublemakers, then getting the police involved is the only sensible alternative.

    It’s a mitzvah to stop these out-of-control rodfim. Less than 2 years ago an unnamed individual in Lakewood started a huge fire which ended up with the death of a firefighter from a heart attack due to working so hard to extinguish the destructive flames. Never mind the many destroyed buildings and businesses.. I hope that sick kid feels real good about himself.

  6. I would take pictures of the boys and send them to the cops so they can easily investigate the arsonist perpetrators. Hopefully that will lead to their arrest. Let’s get rid of every arsonist one at a time until our neighborhoods can be safe again.

  7. Without mentioning names, there’s a certain institution on (moderated) Ave that its boys have earned a reputation of regularly starting fires in the heavily wooded area directly behind their trailers.

    The neighbors are fuming that they are in constant risk of losing their homes from conflagration, because the staff can either not control its students or it couldn’t care less about its neighbors.

    Now I can understand some of those people who are scared to welcome these schools into their neighborhoods. It’s just too dangerous!

  8. Behind jail bars is the only place an arsonist belongs. It might even be a perfect opportunity for him to finally become a real masmid!

  9. Sadly, I remember a fire in the 60’s caused by 3 very young bochurim playing with matches in the home they dormed. Tragically 2 of the boys were niftar, besides seriously damaging the house

  10. Perhaps the chief could outline some safe and legal ways that you could burn chometz at home.

    A BBQ grill is one way (make sure that the chometz burns through completely. Dough from hafroshas challah takes a long time)

    A rocket stove works well.

    A small fire with a cooking grate. ( cooking grate will keep the chometz in the fire instead of on the ground) on a non combustible (concrete) surface with hose nearby etc.

    An bonfire that requires a permit is bigger than a certain size ( maybe 3 feet? )

    • yes, grill no question. I believe metal can – less than 3 feet in diameter is also fine. But you need a lot of thin twigs or newspaper to get started, then a lot of dry branches to feed it and keep it hot.

    • What about the family? For lots of other crimes we are told not to say anything for fear the family will be damaged. But here is different. Ma nishtana

Comments are closed.