Youth Firesetter Prevention and Intervention

Curiosity about fire is part of a child’s growth process, which leads children to experimentation.

Fires often happen when children are bored or have inadequate supervision. Firesetting behavior in some children is a way of expressing frustration, abuse, and other emotional needs. The child could also have experienced a life changing event, such as divorce or the loss of a loved one. 

Rockingham County Fire & Rescue provides Youth Firesetter Prevention and Intervention programs to help stop this behavior. There is no charge for these services and all information is kept confidential.

Factors influencing firesetting behaviors:

  • Easy access to ignition materials (matches, lighters)
  • Lack of appropriate supervision
  • Lack of fire safety education
  • Access to the internet

Types of Firesetters:

  • Curiosity/Experimentation: Curious about fire, lack of understanding of consequences and has easy access to ignition materials
  • Crisis/Troubled: Child has experienced a recent trauma and is expressing anger, sadness or other emotion
  • Thrill-seeking/Risk-taking: Peer influenced or gang involvement, has easy access to ignition materials
  • Delinquent/Criminal/Strategic: Child has a motive or willful intent to cause destruction
  • Pathological: Child may have a physical or mental disease which causes them to use fire to cope. This child needs treatment in a hospital or residential program.

Who can refer a child?

  • Parents/guardians
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Schools
  • Social Services
  • Courts and Probation offices
  • Fire personnel

What are some components of the firesetter program?

  • Understanding fire behavior
  • Consequences, choices and responsibilities
  • Causes and effects of fire
  • Fire and life safety


For more information contact 540-564-3175 and ask for the Fire & Life Safety Division