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Kids Zone

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The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C)

Playing with fire and firesetting are extremely dangerous behaviours that can result in substantial personal and economic loss to families and communities. The Arson Prevention Program (TAPP-C) is a program for youth who have played with fire or set fires, including such things as playing with matches or lighters, burning paper or garbage, performing lighter "tricks," intentionally setting fire to buildings, or making bombs. It is an evidence-based collaborative program that involves fire service and mental health professionals working together to insure that all youth involved with fire have the best chance possible for a safe and healthy future.  If you have a concern about your child or teen, call the Peel Children's Centre at 905-451-4655 or your local fire service.

What is fireplay? ***

  • Playing with electrical appliances such as the toaster or stove
  • Burning items such as paper or garbage
  • Setting a fire to destroy something or to hurt someone

Warning Signs

  • Matches or lighters are missing
  • Matches or lighters are found among your child's belongings
  • There are burn marks on household items or on your child's clothing or possessions
  • Your child is extremely interested in fire
  • Someone else has complained about your child's fire involvement

Safety Tips

  • Model safe and appropriate fire behaviour
  • Ask youth about his/her own fire-related experiences, and about friends' fire-related activities
  • Get rid of all but necessary lighters/matches
  • Lock up all necessary lighters/matches Increase monitoring/supervision to prevent access to fire materials
  • Look for burn marks or burned objects around the house
  • Look for burn marks on clothing, or burns on fingers
  • Look for matches/lighters in child's room, play space, backyard
  • Install and test fire alarms
  • Create and practice a home fire escape plan

Help is available

Playing with fire and firesetting are extremely dangerous behaviours that create serious risks to youth, their families, and the community. Such fire involvement can be an indication of other problems in a child's life. It can start at any age. Fire involvement in any form has to be taken seriously and addressed immediately, since it may start small but can quickly and easily progress to large and serious fires that threaten the safety of the child and the family. Overall, the two most important factors in youth fireplay and fire starting are access to fire-related materials and opportunity to use them when adults are not present.

The two most important things that parents can do to prevent inappropriate fire involvement are

  • eliminate their youth's access to fire-related materials, and
  • remove all opportunity for them to use fire-related material

***Information in this section is adapted from