July 17, 2019


The American Fork Fire/Rescue Youth Fire-setter Intervention Program has taken a positive approach in its efforts to stop youth fire setting. A goal to stop fire setting in our community by youth has been established. This goal shall be accomplished through investigation, identification, assessment, evaluation, education, and appropriate referral to mental health services. 

What is fire-setting?

We call children fire setters when they have begun to use fire in a way that is dangerous or not approved by a parent or guardian. The term fire setter does not mean a child has a problem. The majority of children should be gaining all the information they need to be safe with fire at home and in school. These are areas you can help control. 


Myth: It is normal for children to play with fire. 
Fact: While curiosity about fire is common, use without a parents approval or knowledge is dangerous to the child and anyone around them.  

Myth: If you burn a child’s hand they will stop.
Fact:Burns only create fear and scars. The reason behind fire use must be discovered and addressed. 

Myth: It is a phase the child will grow out of. 
Fact: It is not a phase. It is a dangerous behavior. You cannot afford to wait for fire behavior to change. It only takes one match to cause serious injury or death. 

Myth: Some children are obsessed with fire. 
Fact: In reality, very few children are obsessed or would be considered pyromaniacs. There is almost always a reason behind the behavior. 


By determining the motivation for the fire setting, we can best determine how to deal with it. Most children fall into the following classifications:


  • Children are usually young. 
  • Fire is usually paper or other valueless objects
  • Children will be secretive.
  • Children will usually fear the consequences of their actions.
  • Children may have ready access to matches and lighter around the home.
  • Children may not fully understand the parents rules regarding fire use around the home.
  • Parents may be setting a bad example for children as they use matches and lighters for everyday tasks. 


  • Children may be any age.
  • There may be no apparent reason for the fire setting behavior.
  • Fire setting may occur during times of personal or family stress. 
  • Fire setting may accompany other acting out behaviors.
  • Children may also be experiencing problems in school or with friends.
  • Fire setting is often meant to destroy clothes, toys, or other items of personal property that belong to them or others.


  • Usually older children and adolescents.
  • Fire setting is usually in association with other rebellious behavior.
  • There may be other children involved.
  • Fire setting may occur with other acts of vandalism.
  • Children show little or no regard for others around them.
  • Fire setting behavior is often accompanied by anger, depresion, or other unresolved feelings the child may have. 

Treatment: Family Fire Safety Education and Counseling Assistance. 


A parent can do a lot to prevent children from being involved with fire. Children look to parents for guidance, leadership, and as a role model. Listed below are some tips to help you deal with fire setting behaviors you might encounter.

  1. Lead by example. You cannot expect your child to treat fire any differently than you do.
  2. Explain why they cannot use fire. Simply saying DON’T is not enough. Think about how you react when you’re told DON’T.
  3. Treat matches and lighters like tools. Give these items the same respect you would other dangerous tools around your home. (ex. knives, kitchen appliances, hammers, etc.) 
  4. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of all children. Better yet, remove all unnecessary matches and lighters from your home completely. Most children are only involved with fire because it is available.
  5. Reward children for making the right decisions with matches and lighters. Also, make it clear what the punishment for the wrong use of matches and lighters will be. 
  6. Encourage your child’s school to; promote fire safety in the classroom. 


If you are uncomfortable and fire setting goes beyond what you are able to deal with, call or bring your child/children to:

96 North Center Street
American Fork, UT 84003

Do not put off dealing with this behavior. Fire is a devastating and deadly force. 



American Fork Fire/Rescue Youth Fire Setter program is dedicated to providing the highest quality in fire education, awareness and rehabilitative services to the community and is committed to reducing injury, death, and loss of property due to misuse of fire by youth. We will accomplish this through networking support agencies, counseling, education, and enforcing practices that will rehabilitate offenders and educate family, friends and the public.