“Unfortunately, in the city of Pine Bluff, we have recently experienced instances of juvenile fire starters,” a press release from the Fire and Emergency Services Department said. “Besides the obvious damage to property caused by these youth fire starters, the possibility of a fire fatality always exists. Intervention is necessary for these youth and professional counselors are available to assist parents and youth in matters of a juvenile fire starter.

“Children often link fire with celebration and fun, such as blowing out candles on a birthday cake, toasting marshmallows over bonfires, or watching fireworks displays. Many children are naturally curious about fire and find it exciting to watch a flame appear from a lighter or a match. However, young children are not able to understand the dangers of fire. Every year, children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and injuries around the nation. Therefore, it is important to teach children that fire is very dangerous, and that matches and lighters are not toys.”

Children and Fire Play Facts

Children playing with fire set more than 20,000 fires every year. That is an average of almost 400 fires each week.

Fires started by children playing cause an average of 150 deaths and nearly 1,000 injuries every year.

Children usually play with fire in a hidden place – such as a bedroom or closet. In these places, clothing, mattresses, and bedding can easily catch fire.

Who is at Risk?

More than half of fires set by children are started by preschoolers and kindergartners.

Boys are more likely to start fires than girls.

The majority of the victims are younger than 6 years, though parents and caretakers are often among the victims as well.

Most fires started by children occur when they are left at home alone or unsupervised.

Prevention Tips

Talk to children about the dangers of fire. Never let a child use a match or lighter, even with an adult present.

Teach children to tell an adult if they find matches or lighters.

Store matches and lighters out of a child’s reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Use only lighters that are child-resistant. However, keep in mind that this does not mean the lighter is “childproof.”

Do not use a lighter that resembles a toy, and never use fire to amuse children.

Do not leave children unsupervised.

Develop a fire escape plan and practice it regularly.

Install smoke alarms on every level of the house, outside all sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom.

If a child is intentionally setting fires, get help. Contact your local fire department or school counselor for assistance.

As a reminder, if you reside in the city limits of Pine Bluff and you do not have a working smoke detector, Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services will provide one for you at no cost by calling (870) 730-2048. A time will be set and members of the Fire Department will come to your residence and install a smoke detector in your home. Also at this time, a home survey is offered.

In addition, Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services offers an address program by providing reflective, adhesive, numbers for your house and will install them if your home does not have a visible address. This service can help insure a more certain response in case you are in need of emergency services.

Free Blood pressure checks are available by stopping by your local fire station.