Advice for Parents and Guardians 

This section is designed to give guidance to parents and guardian who may be concerned about a child or young person playing with or lighting fires.

Parents and guardians who have concerns about fire setting behaviour displayed by children should follow the advice on this page.

First, don’t be too alarmed – it’s quite natural for a child to curious about fire.


  • Make sure lighters and matches kept in the home are stored out of sight and reach of children and young people.
  • Never leave children alone in the house, even for short periods of time.
  • Search for lighters and/or matches in clothes, bedrooms and school bags.
  • Carry out regular checks for signs of fire setting such as burn marks on carpets, beds and furniture – particularly in their bedroom.
  • Explain that fire is not a toy, but it is a tool for adults to use. Only adults should use it because it’s dangerous. Talk about the ways adults use fire, such as cooking, candles and for keeping warm.
  • Explain how fires can hurt and kill.
  • Don’t keep flammable liquids in the house and keep outbuildings, garden sheds and garages locked to prevent access to flammable liquids.
  • Make sure the home is fitted with working smoke alarms. One in each room is advisable except the kitchen and bathroom. At least one smoke alarm on each level of the house is a bare minimum.
  • Test the smoke alarms weekly by pressing the test button. Maintain by dusting or putting the vacuum nozzle over the sensor during your weekly test.
  • Make a home fire safety plan with your family and practice it (details about where to get fire safety information can be found at the end of this page)

If a fire happens, warn the rest of the family and GET OUT, STAY OUT, CALL THE FIRE SERVICE OUT!

What are the signs?

You should become aware quite quickly if your child is repeatedly playing with fire.

Look out for small burn holes in carpets, charred paper in sinks or wastebaskets.

Matches and lighter may be hidden in their cupboards, drawers, under the bed or they may know exactly where to get yours from even if you think you have hidden them.

Your child may express a fascination with fire.

You may have a fire with unknown cause.

Why do children start fires?

Children and young people start to play with fire for various reasons, ranging from natural curiosity to attention seeking or a cry for help.

Without help and guidance fire setting may increase and lead to more serious consequences such as serious personal injury and damage to homes, schools and other properties.

This behaviour needs to be recognised and dealt with appropriately in order to minimise the chances of it happening again.

What should you do if you suspect your child is playing with fire?

Consider your own actions and how they might influence the behaviour of the children and young people for whom you are responsible.

Act on the advice given in this leaflet, you could reduce the chances of your child starting a destructive fire.

If you think the problem is serious or you feel you need help to deal with it then you can call us.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has a Fire setter Intervention Scheme.

Firesetting Intervention Scheme (FIS)

This Scheme offers help from Fire Service Personnel who are specially trained to work with children and young people who have demonstrated a worrying interest in fire.

The Scheme caters for children and young people of any age.

What does the Scheme do?

The scheme offers different programmes of education and advice to children, young people and their families or any agency that might be involved.

The programmes include a Home Visit, the SAFE programme (usually 4 sessions) and the FIRESAFE Programme (10 sessions). Young people who have been caught for Arson usually follow the longer programme, however, the scheme aims to help prevent young people finding themselves in this situation. The sessions for the SAFE and FIRESAFE usually take place at a Fire Station and last about an hour.

If you would like more information about the Scheme and the programmes on offer please contact us by:

Telephone: 01443 232407/416/436 

Firesetting Intervention Scheme
Community Safety Department

South Wales Fire & Rescue Service
Forest View Business Park
CF72 8LX

Related Information

Page Last Updated on 11/1/2012