Children and young people who set fires

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service recognises that fires started by children and young people, in the home or elsewhere, are a cause for concern. Whatever their reason, fire setting behaviour should never be ignored. Every fire can pose a threat to life and property.

Anyone who is worried about a child or young person who is setting fires can ask for advice by emailing firewise@surreycc.gov.uk or telephone our free 24 hour number 0800 456 1095.

What is the Firewise Scheme?

Firewise is an educational scheme run by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to address firesetting behaviour in children and young people under the age of 18.

Trained Firewise advisors work with children and young people, with their parents or carers present, to help make them aware of the dangers of fire and potential consequences of their actions.

Through fire safety education, our advisors aim to reduce the likelihood of children setting fires in the future.

We accept referrals from parents, carers, schools, police, social services, youth support and other professionals. To work with a child or young person, we require consent from a parent or carer.

You can request a visit online:

Request a Firewise visit

Alternatively you can:

  • telephone our free 24 hour number 0800 456 1095. A few details will be taken and one of our team will call you back.
  • email firewise@surreycc.gov.uk

Why do children and young people set fires?

Children and young people start playing with fire for various reasons, including natural curiosity, boredom, anger, emotional distress or peer pressure.

Whatever their reason, fire setting behaviour should never be ignored. Every fire can pose a threat to life and property.

What are the telltale signs of fire setting?

If you notice any of these telltale signs, please contact us.

  • Small burn holes in carpets, bedding, furniture
  • Burns on windowsills
  • Charred paper in sinks and bins
  • Unexplainable burnt candles or items inside or outside the home
  • Matches or lighters hidden in a child's bedroom, bags or clothes
  • An unusual fascination with fire

How parents and carers can reduce the risks and stay fire wise

  • Keep matches, lighters and fire lighting materials safe by keeping them out of sight and out of reach of children, if possible locked away
  • Stop access to flammable items by locking sheds, garages and outbuildings
  • Never leave burning candles, open fires or cookers on, even for a short time, especially when children are at home
  • Book a Safe and Well Visit
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly
  • Remember to practise your Home Fire Escape Plan - make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of fire. Get Out, Stay Out, Call 999
  • Refer your child to Firewise. Early help can save lives