Information for Caregivers

If you are a parent or other direct caregiver of a youth involved in firesetting behavior, we have posted some resources that may help.  

The most important step you can take is to find qualified assistance in your community.  Not all fire departments or communities will have youth firesetting intervention programs.  The following guidelines can help you find a program for assistance.

  • Check within the "Find-A-Program for Caregivers" tab of the YFIRES website you are visiting.  Programs are listed alphabetically by state, then by their local designation (often with a link to their website), and a name to reference.
  • If you do not find your community listed, begin by contacting your local fire department and ask them if they have a youth firesetting intervention program or are aware of a program within their community.
  • Taking a child to a local fire station may not find a qualified professional who is trained to work with youth firesetting behavior.  Most firefighters in communities do not have this training, it is often held by one or a handful of department members.
  • Contact your local child welfare office or state human services agency if you don't find resources at your local fire department.  You can also call the local juvenile justice authority (contacting juvenile justice will not necessarily subject your child to criminal implications).
  • If all of those steps fail to find assistance, use the "Contact" page of the YFIRES web site and a professional will contact you as soon as possible.

Firesetting behavior should not be ignored or minimized.  Each and every time a child misuses fire has the potential for damage, injury, or even death.  Children can be held criminally accountable and the family can share in that responsibility.  Please take prompt action when a child sets fire.

The articles listed below are available for your review.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of YFIRES but are intended to offer perspective on the issue of youth firesetting behavior.  Thank you for visiting this page.  Please let YFIRES know if we can be of further assistance.  

10 Facts About Youth Firesetting 
By Jerrod Brown, Don Porth, Kathi Osmonson, Kimberly D. Dodson - This article is titled "Ten Facts About Youth Firesetting for Therapists" but provides solid information for anyone interested in this topic.  The information can provide insight into motivations and factors contributing to youth firesetting behavior.  

Child Playing 
By Kathi Osmonson - Minnesota Deputy State Fire Marshal - This article shares the misunderstandings associated with children and fire.  It puts fire's everyday commonality into perspective to help caregivers understand the associated dangers. 

Lighters: The Fire Source of Choice
By Rusty Foerger - Edmonton (Alberta) Emergency Response Department - This article discusses lighters as the fire instrument of choice for children. 

When Do Children Know Better?
By Don Porth - YFIRES Data System - This article discusses why children do not naturally know not to misuse fire. 

Youth Firesetting: Collaboration Between Teachers and Fire Service Personnel For Early Identification And Intervention
By Jamie Fry - Seattle (Washington) Fire Department - This article discusses the relationship between teachers and firefighters recognizing firesetting behavior in children. 

By YFIRES - This is a list of lives lost to youth-set fires.  This is intended as a reminder of the impact of children with fire on lives, families, and firefighters.  This is not a complete list, only those found in news reports or submitted to YFIRES.