Juvenile Fire Setters


A fire is reported every three and a half hours in Texas as a result of children playing with fire, matches or other fire starter tools.

More people die in fires than in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and all natural disasters combined. Over half of all arson cases involve preteens. Fires set by preteens kill hundreds of people each year and destroy millions of dollars of property. Firefighters, fire setters and other innocent victims die in these fires.

The first step in solving the juvenile fire setter problem is to better understand which children set fires and why they do it. Juvenile fire setters generally fall into four categories. These categories are explained below.

Types of Fire Setters

  • Curiosity / Experimental
  • Troubled / Crisis
  • Delinquent / Criminal
  • Pathological / Emotionally Disturbed
  • Parents / Caregivers
  • Available Programs

What can you do?

Parent or Caregiver

You can help lower these occurrences by:

  • Teaching young children that fire is a tool, not a toy
  • Keeping matches and lighters out of reach, in high, locked cabinets
  • Supervising young children at all times
  • Teaching young children to tell an adult when they find matches and lighters
  • Praising children for practicing responsible behavior and showing respect for fire
  • Setting a good example: use matches, lighters and fire carefully and responsibly

Always Remember

  • Fire is dangerous and can be deadly
  • Even small fires grow and spread quickly
  • Never leave the stove, heater or burning candles unattended
  • Install, maintain and test smoke alarms
  • Plan and practice a home fire escape drill with your family
  • Have a designated meeting place outside the home in the event of a fire
  • Keep your home safe from fires

Available Programs

If you suspect your child or someone you know may exhibit signs of fire setting behavior, the McKinney Fire Department offers a free educational program addressing juvenile fire setting. For more information or to schedule an assessment, please contact our Life Safety Division or call 972-547-2893.