Preventing Juvenile Fire Setting

Every child has the potential for exhibiting fire setting behavior. The Gurnee Fire Department's program "Is Your Child Capable of This" will show you the signs to watch for in children who set fires. From curiosity to arson, this behavior is dangerous and needs education as well as intervention.


Curious Kids Set Fires!
Do you know the signs to watch for?


Children under the age of five are curious about fire. Parents seem to dismiss this as rarity and do nothing about it. Often, what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy! The fires start small and, without intervention, a tragic event will probably occur. This is the time for intervention and education. "Education is the Key to Prevention."


  • FACT: Children make up 20% of all fire deaths.
  • FACT: Over 30% of the fires that kill children are set by children playing with fire.
  • FACT: Children have "secret" places where they tend to start playing with matches and lighters. These places are often under the bed and in closets.
  • FACT: Juvenile firesetters are often not given the proper education and guidance from their parents.


The Gurnee Fire Department has an excellent program in place to work with children after there has been an incident involving a child playing with fire. In addition, an excellent program has been designed for parents to help avoid having an "incident."


"Is Your Child Capable of This" is designed with the parents in mind. Parents will be given signs of juvenile firesetting behavior. Curiosity is a normal part of growing up; however, firesetting is not. Fire is a big influence in all of our lives. It is used for heating, cooking, and celebrations. Birthday parties are a good example of fires used for a celebration. This is the time for the parents to teach their children about fire safety and that "fire is a tool and not a toy." Through our program, you will be better equipped to enforce positive behavior.


If you or your group would like to hear more about this important and informative class, please contact the Gurnee Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau at (847) 599-6600 to schedule an appointment. In the meantime:


Practice Fire Safety in Your Home 

  • Supervise your young children very closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
  • Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
  • Have a fire escape plan and practice it with your family and designate a meeting place outside.
  • Take the mystery out of fire play and teach your children that fire is a tool and not a toy.
  • Teach your children not to hide from firefighters, to get out as quickly as possible, and to call 911 from another location away from the home.
  • Show the children how to crawl on the floor below the smoke, to get out of the house, and to STAY OUT in case of fire.
  • Show the children two ways to get out of each area of the house. If you have a second floor or basement, show them how to open the windows.
  • Demonstrate how to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. And don't forget to cover your face while rolling.
  • Check your smoke detector weekly and replace the battery twice a year. Replace the smoke detector as specified by the manufacturer (usually every ten years).
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home.
  • Familiarize your family to the sound of the smoke detector.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector on every level of the home or in the sleeping area of the home.