Is this child fire-play or a result of a child’s fire-setting?

C:\Documents and Settings\Mark\Desktop\fire1.gif

Has your child or the child you care for demonstrated more than just a fascination with fire? 


Lighters/Matches are Tools, Not Toys

Children are naturally curious and can suffer severe burns, trauma or even death when playing with lighters or matches. Children as young as 18 months are able to operate lighters. It is a fact that children under the age of five are at serious risk of being killed in a fire…nearly double the average population’s risk level! Older children experiment with fireplay for many different reasons including peer pressure, thrill seeking, and boredom. Fireplay in older children presents additional risks to personal safety and property damage, especially if they begin to experiment with accelerants such as gasoline or other flammable products.

How to Prevent a Tragedy

  • Keep matches and lighters, including BBQ lighters out of children’s reach. It is your responsibility as a parent/caregiver.
  • Teach children that lighters and matches are tools for adults’ use, not toys for children to play with.
  • Supervise child play. Don’t leave children unattended.
  • When your child is ready, find safe ways to let your child participate in your careful use of fire. Let them blow out the candles or help gather wood for the campfire. As children grow more mature they can learn how to use lighters and matches safely butonly under adult supervision.
  • Be alert to possible signs of fireplay such as small burn marks on clothing, carpeting or furniture, evidence of burned or melted articles throughout the home, especially in children’s bedrooms or basements, missing lighters, and small burns or blisters on children’s fingers or hands.Parents/caregivers of older children should monitor the storage and use of flammable liquids and aerosols in and around the home. Flammable liquids such as paint thinners and gasoline should be locked up in an outdoor shed, where possible.
  • A smoke alarm should be installed inside the bedroom of a child who has been known to play with fire.
  • It is recommended that you install a carbon monoxide detector near all sleeping areas of your home.

Problem Firesetting

Many children light fires out of curiosity while others use fire in anger or as a cry for help. Still others light vandalism fires under peer pressure. Whatever the reason, any act of firesetting must not be ignored and must be handled appropriately.


Confidential help is close by:

Contact by email  Fire Marshal Mark Teolis or by phone 727-784-8668. 

East Lake Fire Rescue is a member of the  Pinellas County Juvenile Firesetters Coalition.

Please visit the following websites for additional information on children and fire:

Fire proof children and children playing with fire