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Juvenile Firesetter Program

Child Firesetting and Juvenile Arson


40 % of fires that kill children ages 5 and under

are started by children.

(United States Fire Administration)


The National Fire Protection Association defines firesetting as the unauthorized use of fire. These children are simply curious or are children playing with fire that gets out of control. Fire interest by children, often accompanied by fireplay is nearly universal. There is a tendency to dismiss the child who plays with fire as "kids will be kids" but in reality, these children are the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers. Michigan's Child Fatality Review Team found that 40% of child fire deaths were the result of children using fire inappropriately (1999). As the child gets older, the fascination with fire does not go away and these fires will become more serious if appropriate intervention does not take place.


Over half of the arrests for Arson

are juveniles under the age of 18.

(FBI Crime Report)


Arson is an intentional act classified as a felony. In Michigan, our youth account for 27% of arrests for arson. Many nuisance fires are set on school property, in vacant buildings, and in open wild land areas. Youth who set these fires threaten the safety of school staff, students, firefighters, and our citizens.


Michigan fire departments are required by law to report all fires to the State Fire Marshal and Michigan's schools are required to report all fires to the local fire department. Prompt and complete reporting assists in identifying youth using fire inappropriately. Early notification is vital in order to provide necessary intervention and prevent injury, death, or property loss.


What is a Firesetter?

How can we solve this problem?