Youth Fire Setter Program

Program Overview
The Youth Firesetting Program is a program of education and evaluation. It is designed to teach children and parents that matches and lighters are tools, not toys. Any child who demonstrates interest or curiosity about fire should be provided with information and education as soon as possible. If your child sets a fire, the reason for setting the fire needs to be determined. Our staff is able to conduct an evaluation interview with both parent(s) and child, to help determine why the child is interested in fire.

Curiosity Firesetter
In most cases, we find that the child is demonstrating a natural "curiosity" about fire. We bombard the children with mixed messages about fire when they are very young. We celebrate birthdays by lighting candles on a birthday cake, and having the child blow out candles. Fire is often used to create a sense of excitement in the television and movie industry. When dealing with a "curiosity" firesetter, educational intervention usually proves to be effective. The child and parent may need additional services or psychological evaluation.

Curiosity Firesetter Profile
  • Has fascination with fire and an interest in matches and lighters
  • Usually a boy 3 to 10 years old
  • Does not usually understand the destructive potential of fires
  • Generally sets few fires
  • Generally asks for help to extinguish
Troubled Firesetter
There are also other reasons for a child to be fascinated and involved with fire. In some of the cases, the child may be attempting to "cry out for help", an attempt to get attention. In some other cases, the child may be attempting to act out "destructively", or harm themselves or others. In these cases we find that the child and parent benefit by speaking with mental health professionals. We can help provide the family with direction in meeting with competent counselors to help further address the underlying problem of firesetting.

Troubled Firesetter Profile
  • The child has set several fires
  • The child seeks out and collects firesetting tools
  • The child uses fire to receive attention
  • The child uses fire to destroy toys, hurts animals, or other children
  • The child seems overly fascinated with fire
  • History of school and/or social problems
  • Hyperactive
  • Mood Swings
  • Bedwetting
  • May lie or steal/impulsive or destructive
Helpful Fire Safety Tips for Parents & Caretakers
  • Never leave children unsupervised. (Most fires occur when the parents or guardians are in the home, but are not aware of what the children are doing.)
  • Keep Lighters and Matches away from children (under secure lock and key).
  • Teach children to respect fire at an early age.
  • Never present fire in an entertaining way because in so doing this will connect the idea of play and fun with fire.
  • Be a good example.
  • Be sure to have working smoke detectors in the home.
  • Teach all family members how to call "911" for help in emergencies.
  • Have an home escape plan and practice it regularly.