Child arsonists pose holiday risk

DISTURBING statistics show that over the past three years, firefighters across NSW attended nearly 400 building fires suspected of being started by children playing with matches or lighters.

And with the end of year school holidays upon us, teachers and carers are being urged to teach their children about fire safety to discourage them from playing with fire.

“It is an unfortunate fact that our fire and rescue officers see a spike in deliberately-lit fires during school holidays,” Queanbeyan Fire Brigade station officer Gary Dick said.

“Children are often fascinated with fire, but they rarely understand the consequences of playing with it. Sadly, some of the children who die or are injured in home fires have actually lit the fire themselves.

“We don’t want to see any more children learn the hard way that if you play with fire, you are going to get burnt.

“If parents or carers are concerned about their child's fascination with fire, FRNSW has developed the Intervention and Fire Awareness Progam (IFAP) specifically to help them.”

Under the program, parents and carers may ring a free and confidential service (1800 600 700) to talk to Fire Intervention Officers.

Station Officer Gary Dick said members of the community also needed to remain vigilant of any suspicious behaviour and report any concerns to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

Further information about IFAP, and for fact sheets on child fire safety, visit the FRNSW website at

www.fire.nsw.gov.au

Fire Rescue NSW recommends the following advice to parents and carers:

Practise your home escape plan with your children

Make sure children know how to call Triple Zero (000)

Ensure children are supervised at all times around fires

Teach children that fire is a tool, not a toy

Keep lighters and matches secure

Watch for evidence of fireplay, such as burns on bedding or clothing and lighters or matches in children’s pockets

Be aware that younger children may play with fire in their bedroom

Ensure you having working smoke alarms in the house, including in the child’s bedroom if they are suspected of having a fascination with fire and fire play.

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