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Firesetter Intervention Scheme: stopping a child's interest in fire

How to talk to children who play or have an unhealthy fascination with fire to help them understand the consequences, and what signs to look out for.

There are several reasons why children play with fire, including natural curiosity and attention seeking.

Firesetting behaviour can also lead to more serious consequences, such as:

  • major injuries
  • damage to home, schools, property
  • death

Unfortunately, some parents do not recognise the symptoms or the reasons for their child's unhealthy interest.

What to look out for

The signs of firesetting include:

  • small burn holes in carpets
  • charred paper in sinks or wastebaskets
  • matches or lighters hidden in bedrooms
  • an unusual fascination with fires
  • unexplainable fires in your home

This behaviour should be recognised and dealt with to ensure that it doesn't continue into adulthood.

You should also think about your own actions and how they may influence the behaviour of children for whom you are responsible.

How to make your home safe for children

  • Always keep matches and lighters safely out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave children alone in the house.
  • Never assume toddlers or infants are incapable of lighting a match or lighter - be safe, not sorry.
  • Explain that fire is dangerous and only adults should deal with it - for older children, teach the appropriate uses of fire under an adult's supervision.
  • Teach your children to stop, drop and roll if their clothes should catch fire.

Firesetter Intervention Programme in Suffolk

We run a firesetter intervention programme which involves fire service staff visiting children who play or have a fascination with fire.

This is always with the permission of the parent or guardian, and the visit takes place in the child's own home.

The first visit by the advisers will attempt to discover more about the young person involved and establish a trusting relationship. Advisers can, by agreement, visit your home, or arrangements can be made to meet at a community centre or similar location where young people feel comfortable.

A parent or carer will be requested to sign a consent form at the start of the first visit.

The amount of time spent by an adviser depends upon the specific circumstances and problems. Your adviser will discuss times with you and will be available to answer any questions.

For more details about the programme, email or call 01473 260588, open 9am to 5pm on Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm on Friday.