Help for Children Setting Fires

Have you found your child playing with matches or lighters? Curiosity about fire can be a natural, but perilous thing. Children and young adults misusing or playing with fire can have dangerous or even deadly results. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Fairfield Fire Department’s Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Program may be able to help with this potentially dangerous behavior. The service is free, and all information is kept strictly confidential. The program educates children and parents to stop firesetting behavior from continuing.

How the Program Works

Juveniles from 5 to 17 can be referred to the program from any of our partner agencies or by concerned parents. Participation is voluntary except for those referred by the Juvenile Court authorities. Trained fire personnel conduct interviews to determine potential causes of the curiosity and if further help is needed. If the behavior is found to be suggestive of more serious problems, referral to specialized social services or mental health agencies will be recommended. For others, the program educates them in fire safety through the performance of various educational studies. Parents assist the child and keep track of his/her progress. It is the intention of this program to teach the child the dangers of fire and ways of making his/her family fire safe.

The program normally takes three to six weeks to complete. Scheduling will be handled on an individual basis, but normally every 6 days until complete.

How to Enroll in the Program

To enroll in the Juvenile Fire Setter program call Fire Headquarters at 513-867-5379 or Email us for more information.

Steps to Prevent Firesetting

These 5 steps can help prevent firesetting:

  • Teach very young children that fire is a tool we use to cook food or heat the home. It is not magic, but can be dangerous and only for adults to use carefully (use the example for driving a car or using power tools).
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of very young children. Even a 2-year-old can work a cigarette lighter!
  • Teach children not to even pick up lighters or matches and come ask a grownup to move them out of the reach of children.
  • Explain why it is important to use matches only when needed and with an adult present. If an older child is curious about matches, show him/her the proper and safe way to use them (when parents feel they are ready). It may be best to take the appeal away and show them it is just a tool, not a toy.
  • Examples must be set. Always be careful with matches and fire. Keep your home safe and let your children help you.

Firesetting: Facts or Myths?

  • Myth: "It’s normal for children to play with fire."
    Fact: While curiosity about fire is common, fire play or setting is not, and it can be deadly.
  • Myth: "It’s a phase that he will grow out of."
    Fact: It is not a phase and you must deal with it immediately or it may continue.
  • Myth: "If you burn their hand, they will stop."
    Fact: If you burn your child, they will be scarred, that’s all. You must address the real reason for the fire before the child will stop.
  • Myth: "If the fires are small, it is no big deal."
    Fact: All fires and fire play start out as small fires. Anytime a child sets a fire, they are endangering themselves and those around them. That’s a big deal.
  • Myth: "Firesetting is pyromania."
    Fact: Pyromania is a disorder. Firesetting is not. It is a behavior that can have many causes and can be stopped.