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Fire-Rescue Department

Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program

Photo of Child Playing with Matches

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and its Metro Arson Strike Team work together with the San Diego Burn Institute to educate parents and children about the dangers of playing with fire.

Nationally, nearly 80,000 structure fires a year are caused by children. Children are responsible for 46% of all fires deliberately set in this country. Each year about 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed in fires attributed to children playing with fire. Deaths related to children playing with fire are particularly avoidable.

At least 50% of all boys from the age of three through the teen years experiment or play with fire at least one time. Many fires set by curious children are in or near the home - in a closet, in a bedroom, or in the backyard.

  • Keep matches, lighters and other ignitables in a secured drawer or cabinet out of reach
  • Have children tell you when they find matches and lighters
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location
  • Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out
  • Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if clothes catch fire.

The San Diego Burn Institute's Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program is designed to teach children about the damaging consequences of playing with fire. The program involves child/parent interviews and educational sessions. If additional help is needed the Burn Institute can refer families to community mental health professionals.

You can contact the San Diego Burn Institute at (858) 541-2277. The Burn Institute is located at 8825 Aero Drive, #200, San Diego, CA 92123