Children and Fire


Each year, children are responsible for many of the fires that are set in this country. These fires cause millions of dollars in damages, thousands of injuries, and hundreds of child deaths. Juveniles account for more than half of all arrests for arson in the U.S. Children are responsible for more than one-third of all fires set in Pittsburgh. Our own studies show that between 50 and 59% of firesetting children in the Pittsburgh region may be expected to set another fire within a two-year period (Kolko et al., 2001).

There are many reasons why children play with or use fire. The reasons include:

  • • Being curious about or attracted to fire
  • • Having limited knowledge about the dangers and impact of fire
  • • Looking for help or attention
  • • Wanting to feel powerful
  • • Expressing anger or a desire to change an unpleasant situation

Our Program


The SAFETY program is designed to:

  1. 1. Evaluate the strengths/needs of each child/adolescent
  2. 2. Evaluate the strengths/needs of parents/caregivers
  3. 3. Provide training in fire safety and/or psychological/behavioral skills, as needed
  4. 4. Help parents/families cope with the aftermath of a fire
  5. 5. Minimize the risk of future firesetting

In the course of our services, we monitor each child's progress and offer feedback to families on a regular basis.

Please note that all assessment and treatment services provided by the SAFETY program must be provided via a Service Agreement Contract negotiated with another treatment provider, agency, county,or other administrative setting.  Because the cost of these services is not reimbursed by insurance companies, we can only provide them through this contract mechanism. Please contact Eunice Torres, MS, if you have any questions.