Juvenile Fire Setters Program
Source: U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA
Do you know a child whose fascination with fire leads them to play with fire?
Curious children with fire setting behavior will want to know how fire feels, how it burns, and what fire does to objects. They do not know how destructive fire can become. Sure, curiosity is a normal part of childrens' development, but if you discover a child playing with fire, please take it seriously. Most curious type fire setters are between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.
For older children between the ages of 5 to 17 years old, the fascination with fire could be from emotional or mental disturbances. These disturbances could range from mild to severe. A crisis in a child's life such as divorce or death can trigger a change in fire setting behavior. Chronic behavior such as poor relationships with other children, cruelty to animals, and extreme mood changes can signal a more serious disturbance.
What can parents do?
Teach your children about fire. Tell children that fire is a tool used to heat homes and cook food. It is not a toy, even adults must follow safety rules for fire. It is dangerous and can kill. All fires, even small ones, can spread quickly.
- Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children, even two year olds can operate a lighter.
- Never allow anyone to use lighters or matches in an unsafe manner in your home.
- Never leave stoves or lighted candles unattended.
- Teach children to bring to your attention any matches or lighters they find.
Set a good example by maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in the home. Plan a fire escape for your family and hold practice drills. Point out to children the safety rules that you and others have to follow throughout the day. Inspect your home for fire hazards.
Boise Fire Department has a Juvenile Fire Setters Program for children and youth to learn about the dangers of fire experimentation. If you are a parent, counselor, or teacher concerned about a child, please contact Captain Roy Boehm at (208) 570-6572. Individual sessions are available for children and parents.