Fire starting behaviour in children

Take action if you are worried about a child who displays fire setting behaviour. Whatever their motives, fire setting should never be ignored. We can help reduce the chance of further fire setting behaviour developing through our education and intervention programmes.

What to do if you’re worried about a child starting fires

Most children have a natural curiosity about fire which can show in little ones as young as two years old. However, sometimes, this interest in fire can escalate and develop into something more serious.

Signs to look out for

There are some tell-tale signs that may show fire starting behaviour. Look out for:

  • small burn holes in carpets, beds and furniture
  • charred paper in sinks or bins
  • matches or lighters hidden in cupboards, drawers or under their bed
  • unexplained fires in your home.

How we can help

Our Firesetter Intervention Programme is for children and young people up to the age of 18.

During the programme, we will:

  • help them understand and manage the thoughts and feelings that lead them to start and play with fires
  • teach them about the effect that starting fires can have on themselves and others.

The sessions are tailored to meet the needs of the child or young person. We design them for their age and any particular concerns or behaviours. Sessions are run by our dedicated team of Firesetter Advisors.

Our approach is about education and guidance to bring about a change in behaviour; it is not to shock or frighten.

How to refer a child

If you need help, we’re here.

Support is easy and free. Anything you send will be kept confidential and will only be sent to the Firesetter Advisors.

Simply fill in and return our Referral Form or call 0800 05 02 999. We will respond to you within two working days.

Advice for parents and carers if a child is starting fires

  • Store matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children and young people.
  • Don’t leave children alone in the house, even for short amounts of time.
  • Look for lighters or matches in bedrooms and school bags.
  • Keep outbuildings, garages and sheds locked so flammable items are out of reach.
  • Explain that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Explain that fire is dangerous and can cause harm and lead to death.
  • Make sure your home is fitted with working smoke alarms, so you’re alerted to any firesetting.
  • Make a fire escape plan with your household.

Support for parents, carers and professionals working with children

Our team also offers guidance to parents, carers, and professionals concerned about a child or young person playing with fire. We can also put you in touch with other organisations that can help with other support your child may need.

We can visit schools, homes or other establishments as necessary. We would need the permission of parents/carers before we carry out any visit.