Firesetter Intervention Scheme

Boy playing with lighter

What is a Firesetter?

The term Firesetter is used to describe those who fire set, fire play or have a fascination with fire and have not been convicted through a court of law. 

Without guidance and support firesetting behaviour can increase and could lead to serious property damage or personal injury and a criminal conviction.

Those who are convicted through fire related crime are deemed as ‘arsonists’

Are you worried about a child/young person’s firesetting behaviour?

Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Firesetter Intervention Scheme is free and confidential* and could help.

We work with children and young people up to the age of 18 or 25 if the young person has special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and/or an education, health and care (EHC) plan is in place.

Our trained Firesetter Advisors work with children/young people and their parents/carers to increase awareness of the dangers and consequences of fire and establish a cause behind the actions.

The programme consists of one to three sessions which are decided on a case by case basis. The sessions are tailored to the individual needs and abilities of the child/young person. Each session lasts for around an hour and Parent/Carer involvement is crucial to the success of the programme.

Anyone can refer a child/young person to the Firesetter Intervention Scheme. Please note if you are not the legal guardian of the child you must seek parental consent to refer to the scheme.

Why do children/young people set fires?

Children/young people of all ages can display an interest in fire. Those that set fires do so for various reasons which could include; natural curiosity, mimicking parent/carers behaviour or as a way of expressing their feelings for example, emotional distress or anger.

Signs to look out for:

  • Scorch marks and/or small burn holes in clothes, bedding, carpets and other soft furnishings.
  • Burnt matches or other items such as charred paper or melted objects left lying about or in waste bins.
  • Matches and lighters hidden in the young person’s bedroom, under the bed, in drawers, in their school bag or coat.
  • An unusual fascination with fires.
burn in cushion Burnt match

Advice for parents and carers:

  • Don’t ignore the firesetting behaviour. Act on it by referring the child/young person into the Firesetter Intervention Scheme
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach and sight
  • Never leave children unattended especially in rooms with burning candles or open fires
  • Explain the dangers of fire and the hurt it can cause
  • Ensure your home has a working smoke alarm on every floor
  • Make a fire escape plan and practice it with the whole family/household
  • Undertake regular checks for the signs of firesetting behaviour
  • Set good examples of fire behaviour. Children learn by exploring, experimenting and copying adult behaviour
  • Remember if you do have a fire, get out, stay out and call 999

When and how to make a referral

  • A young person aged under 18 years of age (or 25 years if they have SEND and/or an EHC plan) has displayed firesetting behaviour.
  • A young person has been involved in making a hoax call.
  • A young person needs reassurance from Avon Fire & Rescue Service with regard to their feelings about fire.

Please note if you are not the legal guardian of the child you must seek parental consent to refer into the scheme.


Details about how Avon Fire & Rescue Service collect, store and share information can be found here

For more information:

Contact the Firesetter Team within the Children and Young Persons Department

Call:               0117 926 2061 extension 393 (voicemail)

Email:            This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



*confidentially is maintained unless we have a legal responsibility to pass information onto other agencies, in which case we will discuss our actions with the family.