Juvenile Firesetter Program

Purpose of the Juvenile Firesetters Program

The purpose of Petersburg Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services implementing the Juvenile Firesetter program is to address the problem of fires set by children.

Who is a Juvenile Firesetter?  

A Juvenile Firesetter is a child typically between the ages of 4 and 14 who exhibits an unusual interest or curiosity in fires, or a child with a history of fire play.   For the curious firesettter, fire play often results from the child's natural curiosity and is usually a one-time careless accident. The lack of adequate supervision, coupled with the availability of matches or a lighter, is all a child needs to be encouraged to play with fire.   

For the child with a history of repeated fire play, firesetting becomes a way to express feelings of anger, frustration or loneliness. Therefore, the problem often occurs during a crisis at home, such as a divorce or death, or a crisis at school.

Education and Intervention  

Educating children on fire safety and preventing future firesetting behavior is accomplished by identifying the motivation for fire play and then redirecting the child's creativity and energies. The program is provided as a free service by the Public Education and Fire Marshals' Office of the Petersburg Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services.

Program Outline  

The Juvenile Firesetter Program involves confidential session(s) between the parent(s), child, and a Public Educator and/or Fire Marshal.   The 4 hour program is held at Petersburg Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services / Training Division, 1151 Fort Bross Drive, Petersburg, VA 23805 and consists of the following:

  • An interview with the parent(s) and child to obtain a case history for a better understanding of the problem
  • Identifying the motivation for the firesetting behavior
  • Administering a Pre - Test to determine the child's awareness of fire play
  • Educating the child on the consequences and dangers of fire and fire play
  • View "To Hell and Back" video
  • Discussing fire safety topics through various activities
  • Administering a Post - Test to determine if the above mention activities were comprehended
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of the firesetter program
  • Referrals to local counseling agencies (when necessary)
  • Follow-up sessions (when necessary)

For additional information, please contact the Public Fire and Life Safety Education Specialist at (804) 733-2328 or at lpjohnson@petersburg-va.org