HFD Juvenile FireStoppers Program
In response to fires started by juveniles, the Houston Fire Department offers intervention programs to ensure that the fire setting behavior will cease.
Without the proper education, 81 percent of youths that have played with fire will do it again.
This program is an one-to-one fire safety class for the child and parent with: An Interview to understand the child's interest, age appropriate activities and videos and question and answer session for the family.
Financing for counseling services is provided for those youths who have more than a curiosity of fire, if the parents are interested in seeking further services.
Referrals to social services for help with after-school care, utilities, rent, etc. are available upon request.
Participation does not create a record of the child. All materials are kept confidential.
The Houston Fire Department has maintained a 98 percent success rate in stopping the fire setting behavior amongst these programs’ participants.
Myths vs. Facts
Myth - It is normal for children to play with fire.
Fact - Although curiosity about fire is common, playing with or setting fires is not typical, and dangerous.
Myth - Fire setting is a phase children will out grow.
Fact - This is not a phase. Youth need the proper education or they will continue to experiment with fire.
Myth - If your child only sets small fires, you don't need to worry.
Fact - Small fires and large fires all start the same. Any fire can quickly get out of control and endanger lives, especially when being handled by a youth.
Myth - Telling your children not to play with fire or punishing them if they have, will cure the problem.
Fact - These measures are often not enough to ensure no further fire play for children who are interested in fire. Discovering why the child has an interest, teaching them about fire in a safe manner and limiting access to matches and lighters often are more successful.
How can you get a child in FireStoppers?
Concerned parents, teachers, members of social services and the Houston Fire Department all refer youths to try to cease their firesetting behavior. This free program is for children 2 to 17 years of age.
Parents concerned that they may be judged as poor parents or seen as over-reacting, do not need to worry because the purpose of the program is to provide education for the child and family's safety.
Call 713-247-8826 for more information or to refer a child.
What can parents do?
1. Make matches and lighters "off-limits"
Tell your children to immediately tell you about any matches or lighters that they find. Reward them when they do.
Set consequences for your children if they are found with matches or lighters.
2. Make your home "fire safe."
Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of your children. If you smoke, keep lighters on your person and not scattered about the house.
Install smoke detectors and check their batteries at least twice a year.
Lock up all flammable items (gas, aerosols, etc.).
3. Teach your children about fire safety.
Talk with your children about the good (cooking, heat) and bad (accidents, burns) uses of fire. Teach them that matches and lighters are TOOLS for adults.
Practice your fire escape plan, stop-drop-and-roll and crawl-low under smoke at home.
4. Realize the dangers of fire play.
If your child has been found playing with fire, enroll them in a proper fire safety and prevention class. Acknowledge that punishment will not solve the problem of fire play. This is not a phase they will out grow.
Things to know about youth fire setting
Why do children set fires?
If you know of a child between the ages of 2 to 16 who has started a fire or has played with matches/lighters, please call for information about these opportunities for help at the Juvenile Intervention Section 713-247-8826