Juvenile Fire Setter Program

If you have or know of a child that has been playing with fire, has set fires or is unusually fascinated with fire, a Juvenile Fire setter Program is a must to help stop this potentially fatal behavior.

Painesville Township Fire Department offers a Juvenile Fire setter Program for our community. This program is for children under the age of 17 who have exhibited inappropriate fire related behavior. The program is run by Lt. Gordon Thompson and is designed to enlighten parents and children about fire safety and the consequences of fire.  Primarily, juveniles become involved with this program after an incident involving a fire or as a referral from the juvenile courts.  However, Parents who are concerned about a child’s potential risk with fire related behavior may call or e-mail.

Click gthompson@painesvilletwp.com to contact Lt. Thompson a Juvenile Fire Setter Educator with Painesville Township Fire Department or call at (440) 352-6996.

Fire Play

Fire play is a deadly game that should NOT be dismissed as a “phase” or simple “curiosity”.
Juvenile arson and youth-set fires result in over 300 deaths and 2000 injuries annually and $300 million in property damage and more than 400,000 incidents annually in the United States.

  • Playing with fire is the leading cause of death in residential fires for young children.
  • Nearly 34% of the victims of child set fires are the children themselves.
  • Children playing with fire cause 40% of residential fire related deaths among children.
  • At home, children often play with fire in their bedroom. Outside, it may be at the bus stop, vacant lot, or garage.
  • Children are under the false impression that they can control the fires that they set.
  • It only takes about 2 minutes for the flame from a single match to spread to the entire room, and less than 5 minutes for that fire to spread through the entire house.
  • Nearly half of all children have engaged in fire play.

Children must be properly supervised and educated about fire’s destructive power.

Juvenile fire setting may be reduced when parents, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement authorities and all caregivers become aware of fire setting.


When To Be Concerned

Fire setting is usually an expression of a child’s feelings, a cry for help. Children in homes where domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, or chaotic parenting styles occur are at a greater risk. Possible warning signs:

  • Playing with matches or lighters.
  • Trying to burn items.
  • Carrying fire starting materials in pockets or having them in their room.
  • Talking about fire.
  • Asking how particular materials will burn.

Children set fires for many reasons. If a child plays with fire, that does not mean they are a problem child. Through education, and in some cases counseling, children and their families can be given the skills to change this dangerous behavior.

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