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Finding your child playing with matches or lighters?Matches Burning

Have you tried everything that you know to stop this behavior, but nothing seems to work?  

Don't know what to do... afraid of what might happen if this fire play activity continues?  

Curiosity about fire can be a natural, but dangerous thing.  If fire play activity seems to be a common occurrence with your child-- that is not normal, and help is needed to find out why this is happening.  Fire play can be deadly... don't be afraid to ask for help.

Some of the warning signs about a child that plays with fire include:

  • Child has ADHD and family is having trouble managing the problem

  • Child has had fire safety education, knows the fire setting is wrong and is 8 years of age or older

  • Child has been severely punished for fire setting

  • Child is the victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse

  • Child experiences an anxiety release from fires

  • Child has intense feelings of powerlessness or has trouble controlling impulses

  • Child is a member of a gang or has a history of aggressive criminal behaviors

Some of the warning sings about the child's behavior include:

  • Bed or bedroom fire

  • Fires are set to specific materials related to stress

  • Recent changes in the family

  • Chronic history of fire setting with progression

  • Bizarre or ritualistic fire setting

  • Uses fire to torture/injure animals, self or others

  • Obsessive/compulsive fire thoughts/behaviors

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department's Juvenile Fire Intervention Juveniles watching fireProgram may be able to help curb this undesirable behavior.  There is no charge for this service and all information is kept strictly confidential.  Although we are not counselors, we have been trained to provide the proper course of action needed after our evaluation of the situation.  Our assessment will determine whether the child is in need of additional potentially life-saving fire safety education (which we will provide), if the child is in need of professional counseling, or in need of both.  Our personnel have received the training necessary to identify children that may need assistance.  To obtain help, or more information, contact the Cedar Rapids Fire Department at 319-286-5200 or E-mail the Program Director, Administrative District Chief Brent Smith.

If you are not a Cedar Rapids resident, we will refer you to the proper agency in your jurisdiction.  To learn more about the statewide program, download the Iowa Juvenile Fire Intervention Program brochure.  There are regional contacts throughout the State that can assist your family. (Download the Southeast Region Program Contacts)

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department has established a cohesive partnership among community agencies- interacting together as a coalition- to reduce the number of fire injuries and deaths by providing evaluation, education and redirection assistance to the children who exhibit fire setting behavior at no cost to the families affected.  The community membership of our coalition reveals the comprehensive commitment that all coalition members have to bringing the relevant parties and talents to the table to identify and fix juvenile fire setting behavior.

Contact Information:
Assistant Chief Brent Smith
Cedar Rapids Fire Department
713 1st Avenue SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401

Phone: 319-286-5200
E-mail: Juvenile Fire Intervention

Children Playing with Fire Report:
Read the latest National Fire Protection Association's report on Children Playing with Fire.  LEARN MORE

Coalition Resources:
The Cedar Rapids Fire Department is the lead agency of the Juvenile Fire Setter Coalition, which is made up of various organizations throughout the community.

Initial Referral Form (For referral by fire service personnel)

Court/School Referral Form (For referral by Juvenile Court Office or Schools)

Program Cover Letter for Parents (provided to parent/guardian at time of referral)

Safety Advice for Parents on Managing Fire Play or Fire Setting (provided to parent/guardian at time of referral)

Home Fire Safety Checklist (provided to parent/guardian at time of referral)

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