Reduce & prevent arson

Reduce & prevent arson

Discover how you can help us reduce arson and where to get help if you know a child/young person who is setting fires. Also, find out how to report arson risks.

Report arson risks/incidents

If you see a potential arson risk, please report it so it can be removed immediately.

You can report potential arson risks in the following ways:

Office hours: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday. If you suspect a child or young person in your care is deliberately setting fires, please contact us as soon as possible so we can help through our Fire Setters education programme.

What is an arson risk?
This is any combustible item that has the potential to be deliberately set alight, endangering life and property.

It is imperative the risk element is assessed through careful examination of potential fire targets and gaps in security. They are used to determine if there are enough precautions in place, or whether more should be done.

For example, there is a greater risk of a wheelie bin being set on fire in an area of high antisocial behaviour, than there is of a large quantity of bins within a secure compound.
What about fires discovered burnt out?
We are constantly looking for patterns or trends in respect of all fires. If you discover a fire that has just burnt out, please let us know. This could be the missing piece in an arson puzzle.

Arson prevention advice

Take a look at our advice below, which aims to help keep your property safe.

Outside your home

Neighbours

  • Try to promote good relations with neighbours, especially those who overlook your property.
  • Encourage them to contact the police if they see intruders, or observe anything suspicious involving your home, and do the same for them.
Garden and fencing
  • Ensure any damage to fencing is repaired promptly to deter intruders.
  • Any side entry gates should be secured unless in use, preventing intruders accessing the rear of your premises.
  • Avoid leaving bins or combustible items accessible, especially not placed against walls. These are a ready supply of fuel for an arsonist.
  • Do not leave flammable liquids in the open, and ensure such items are locked in a shed or outbuilding unless in use.
  • Sheds and garages should be well secured as they contain tools used to force entry into your home, as well as flammable liquids.

Intruder alarm / security lighting / CCTV
Consider providing the above to deter intruders and ensure they are maintained and fully operational at all appropriate times.

If using CCTV, make sure tapes are replaced regularly to ensure a high standard of picture quality. Remember, you may wish to provide video footage as evidence.

Inside your home

External doors

  • Fit good quality external doors.
  • Upgrade existing doors with good quality plywood if necessary.
  • Ensure gaps are kept to a minimum.
  • Five lever mortice locks are advised for external doors.
Letterboxes
A metal mailbox will contain most burning materials (including fireworks), pushed through the letter flap. If the flap is well fitted and maintained, it will close following the introduction of a burning item, thereby restricting oxygen supply. Intumescent letter flaps and mail containers are also available, offering the added advantage of containing accelerants introduced through the opening.

Home security
  • Maintain a rigid ‘lock-up’ whenever your home is vacated.
  • Close windows if no one is home, and consider window locks.
Insurance cover
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance cover for your home and contents.
  • For further information on the above, please refer to your local trade directory or press.
  • Fit and maintain smoke detectors in your home. For more information, please click here.
  • Pre-plan a fire escape route with all family members.
  • Close all doors at night to keep smoke and heat out of escape routes.
  • Avoid storing items on the staircase, as they could present a hazard.
  • In the event of a fire: get out, stay out, and call the fire service.

Where can I get more information about preventing arson?

If you would like further information about how to prevent arson, please contact us:

Contact details

Fire Setters education programme

Children and young people start to play with fire for numerous reasons, ranging from natural curiosity to attention-seeking behaviour.

Without guidance, this can increase and lead to more serious consequences such as injury and damage to homes. 

Our specialist advisors run one-to-one education programmes for this. The scheme offers fire safety education to parents and guardians as well as children and young people.

If you're a parent and would like more information, guidance and advice - click the links below.

How can I help to prevent this behaviour?
Never leave matches or lighters lying around, even in pockets or handbags - lock them away, or put them out of reach.

Tell your child from an early age never to touch matches or lighters, that they are dangerous and can burn and are strictly for grown-ups.
What are the signs I should watch out for?
Look for signs such as burnt matches or piece of paper, or scorch marks on soft carpets or furnishings. If you find any evidence, stay calm – don’t frighten or punish your child for their curiosity.

Consider talking to them and allow them to understand the danger they are in by talking about the consequences of their actions. Seek help, or talk to a trusted member of the family/close friend.
What should I do if I suspect my child of setting fires?
  • Don’t panic as most children show a natural interest and curiosity about fire.
  • Act promptly because help is only one phone call away.
  • We will work with individual children at home or school.
  • We do not punish children, but help them change their dangerous behaviour.
We can arrange for our advisors to come and meet with the child/young person and their parents. The number of visits we make and precise way in which we deal with the issue will vary depending on the circumstances and problems involved.
Can the scheme be used to address other problem behaviours?
Yes, we also use the same personalised education technique to engage with young people who make false alarm or hoax calls to the fire and rescue service, or those who may be involved in vehicle-related crime.
Who can refer a child or young person to the programme?
Referrals can be made by any person or agency that has contact with the individual. This includes parents/guardians, schools, social services, youth offending services, the police etc.

Wherever possible, permission is sought from parents/guardians prior to the commencement of the programme.
Contact us
Don’t allow fire to destroy your family. The results can be devastating. To see how we can help, contact Andrea Sterry, the Fire Setters education programme co-ordinator: