Juvenile Firesetter Program

The Newport News Fire Department adopted the Juvenile Firesetter Program in 1984 to address the problem of fires set by children.

About Juvenile Firesetters

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 firesetter, fire play often results from the child's natural curiosity and is usually a 1-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.

About the Program

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 Bureau of the Newport News Fire Department.

The Juvenile Firesetter Program involves confidential session(s) between the parent(s), child, and a Public Educator. The program consists of:
  • 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
  • Educating the child on the consequences and dangers of fire and fire play
  • Discussing fire safety topics through various activities
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of the firesetter program
  • Referrals to local counseling agencies (when necessary)
  • Follow-up sessions (when necessary)
Please call the Public Education  Bureau at 757-247-2332 for program information.