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Children and Fire

Longmont Fire Department



Studies have shown that the majority of normal children possess an interest in fire and nearly half have engaged in fire-play.

Juvenile firesetters fall into three general groups:

The first is made up of children, mainly boys, under 7 years of age. Generally, fires started by these children are the result of curiosity.

In the second group of firesetters are children ranging in age from 8 to 12. Although the firesetting of some of these children is motivated by curiosity or experimentation, a great proportion of their firesetting represents underlying psychosocial conflicts. They will continue to set fires until their issues are addressed and their needs are met.

The third group comprises adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18. These youth tend to have a long history of undetected fire-play and fire starting behavior. Their current firesetting episodes are usually either the result psychosocial conflict and turmoil or intentional criminal behavior. They have a history of school failure and behavior problems, and are easily influenced by their peers.

Children who set fires may have one or more of these characteristics:

What can parents do?

Unfortunately, families are reluctant to take action on what they think (and hope) is a one-time occurrence. Sometimes families simply ignore the seriousness of the behavior. However, ALL children who have engaged in fire-play or firesetting behavior need intervention. Even very young children who are just curious need to be educated on the dangers of fireplay so that they do not continue the behavior.

Here are some specific things that parents can do:

The Longmont Fire Department has a Juvenile Firesetter intervention and education program available to city residents. It is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. We will evaluate future risk of fire setting through child and family surveys, provide fire safety education when applicable, and refer families to other community resources for counseling when appropriate. Please call (303)774-4440 for assistance.