Juvenile Fire Setters Program/The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C)

If your child is involved in fire-play or fire setting, you are not alone. Many children have a fascination with fire. It is important to understand that while curiosity about fire is natural, fire-play can be dangerous. In fact, fire is a leading cause of death among children in the home. Unfortunately, many youngsters start the very fires that injure or kill themselves or others.

A child's fascination with fire begins at an early age. The principal reason most children play with fire is out of curiosity. Troubled children may act out their anger or frustration by setting fires. Children may set fires as a cry for help. Older children may set fires due to peer pressure, or as a part of gang activity.


The Risks

Fire setting presents an enormous risk to children, their families and the community. Fire involvement can be a sign of other problems in a child's life. It can start at any age. Fire-play can start out small and progress to larger and more serious fires that threaten the safety of the child and the family. It is important that you deal with any fire involvement immediately.

Fire is the leading cause of death at home for children under six. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that two of every five children killed in home fires die in fires started by themselves or other young children. More than one out of every eight fatal structure fires is started by a child under the age of 15 years.


St. Catharines Fire Services Role

The St. Catharines Fire Service is involved with the TAPP-C program, which is designed to deal with a growing trend in juvenile fire setting and fire-play. The program is administered through the Fire Prevention Office by fire services personnel trained in intervention techniques specific to juvenile fire setting.

TAPP-C is a program that brings together fire services and counselling professionals to help families deal effectively with children and teens involved in fire-play. Fire services educates children and their families about fire and helps in the development of good fire safety practices. Counselling professionals assess the risk of continued fire involvement and help children and their families deal with the issues that may contribute to the fire setting behaviour.

TAPP-C is free of charge and is available to children from two to 17 years of age.

If you suspect a problem, or require more information, we urge you to contact the Fire Prevention Division at:

905-688-5601, ext. 4224


What is fire-play?

  • Playing with matches or lighters
  • Playing with the toaster, stove or furnace
  • Burning items such as toys, paper or garbage
  • Setting fire to destroy something or hurt someone

What to watch for


If you notice any of the following, your child may be involved in fire-play:

  • Matches or lighters go missing
  • Matches or lighters are found among your child's belongings
  • There are burn marks on household items or your child's clothing or possessions
  • Your child is extremely interested in fire

Keep your child safe from fire


You can help to protect your child and family from fire by following these fire safety tips:

  • Make sure that young children are supervised at all times
  • Keep matches and lighters locked away so children cannot get them
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test them regularly
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan





Photo of Match House
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