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Nebraska State Fire Marshal

Jim Heine, State Fire Marshal

Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention

Regardless of their motivation or intent, juveniles who exhibit firesetting behavior must be assessed to ensure that they receive the appropriate counseling and education to address their firesetting behavior.

Firesetting Facts

Why Children Set Fires

The best way to understand why children set fires is to look at their motivations for firesetting. For most young kids, the motive is experimentation and curiosity. Motives can involve curiosity, a cry for help, thrill-seeking, willful intent to cause destruction, or children who suffer from mental or emotional problems.

  • Curiosity or fascination
  • The false impression that they can control the fire
  • Limited fire safety education
  • Easy access to ignition materials
  • Emotional Stress

What You Can Do

The most critical message for children to learn is that matches and lighters are tools, not toys! Parents should never use lighters, matches and fire for fun; children will mimic you, and when they do it unsupervised, tragic events can result. Praise your child for practicing responsible behavior and showing respect for fire. Set a good example: Use matches, lighters and fire carefully, as children will imitate positive behavior too.

  • Always supervise young children.
  • Never leave matches or lighters within reach of children. Keep matches and lighters out of reach in high, locked cabinets.
  • Use child-resistant lighters, but remember that they are not childproof.
  • Instruct young children to inform an adult if they find matches or lighters.

Children and Fire - Safety Tips For Caregivers

Additional Information