How can I recognize if my child is at risk?

Children who exhibit any of the following characteristics may be involved in fire play:

  • Keeps matches or lighters but doesn't smoke
  • Smell of sulphur in the child's bedroom
  • Toys or other personal effects that appear melted or singed

There are other identifying attributes that may or may not identify an at-risk child. These include an inexplicable need for privacy, being a "loner", unusual fascination with fire trucks or fire related events ...

Why do they (the children) do these things?

Children who commit arson typically fall into one of X categories:

  • Angry or upset over something or someone

    Children often have difficulty in displaying their true feelings or emotions. In particular, when they are upset with someone who is very close to them, such as a parent, they may not be able to explain exactly what is bothering them. Yet they still need to cry out. Some children deliberately break laws knowing that they will be caught. Fire, because it has been introduced to them from an early age as a major taboo, is an easy method for them to work with.

  • Curiosity

    Odd as it may sound for a grown-up, sometimes children do things just to discover what happens. They have no cruel intentions, they just want to see what happens when a pile of papers burn. In the majority of these situations, the child is certain that they are working in a safe environment and, if anything happens, then it was clearly an accident (in the child's eye).

  • Destructive

    Some children do destroy things because they want to. They may find some form of perverse pleasure in watching other people's (or even their own) property disappear in a flash of flames.

Who do I contact?

Persons concerned, looking for further information or wishing to have their child entered into the program are welcome to contact their local fire department directly or local TAPP-C Assistance Line.

Area of Service - Lead Contact - Phone Number Local Fire Dept. Name - Phone Number

why does this

What Happens?

The fire department TAPP-C officer will interview the caregivers/parents, usually at the fire hall or over the phone, to help them determine if the child needs the program. If a child enters the program the following steps will occur:

  • Home visit by the fire department – to assess the fire safety of the child's residence.
  • The caregivers/parents will be offered the opportunity to have the child receive a Tapp-c assessment. This (risk) assessment will give the caregiver information as to the potential for the child to be involved with fireplay or firesetting in the future.
  • The child may be recommended to receive counseling.
  • Three other visits (usually at the fire hall) with the child and caregivers/parents will occur. The child as well as the family is instructed on the dangers of fireplay or firesettng.

Is there any follow-up?

If a child, after the initial four steps is involved in fireplay or firesetting, a single follow-up booster session may occur.

How much will it cost?

The TAPP-C program is managed by local steering committees in partnership with the Fire Marshals Public Fire Safety Council and CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Each TAPP-C steering committee may have its own funding policies or guidelines. There is generally NO cost to the youth or their family but is a question you may wish to ask your local agency.

How can I make my home safer?

The Ontario Fire Marshal's office provides a comprehensive list of home fire safety recommendations.

Some statistics

Over half of all known incendiary fires in Ontario are motivated largely by mischief and vandalism. Of these fires, the majority are set by children. (Source: TAPP-C flyer, Office of the Fire Marshal and CAMH)

About the TAPP-C Program

The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C) is a program that involves professionals from fire departments and community agencies across Ontario. The program will provide strategies to deal effectively with a child's fireplay or firesetting. The program will also try to determine why the child has been involved with fire and whether he/she will continue to be involved. TAPP-C's goal is to reduce fireplay or firesetting behaviour among children and to keep them and their families safe from fire. We offer fire safety education training by the local Fire Service and TAPP-C fireplay/firesetting (risk) assessments from local mental health agencies.

The typical TAPP-C steering committee is a collaboration between Fire and Police Services, School Boards, Children's Aid and Mental Health agencies from across the community to develop roles and responsibilities and maintain protocol for the agencies involved.

Since it takes just one match to seriously injure or destroy, we strongly recommend that all families with children who have fireplay or firesetting contact your local TAPP-C agency.



TAPP-C was introduced to Oxford County in September of 1996. The Ontario Fire Marshals' Office, with representatives of the Center for Addiction & Mental Health, Clark Division, presented a half-day workshop to possible stakeholders who could potentially come in contact with juvenile firesetters. It was agreed by these agencies that a mechanism to assist in the identification and education of juvenile firesetters and their families was needed in Oxford County.

An Oxford County Steering Committee consisting of Fire and Police Services, Mental Health Agencies, Children's Aid Society, Public and Separate Boards of Education was established in October, 1996 as a result of this workshop.

Since its inception this Steering Committee has developed a TAPP-C protocol manual, this TAPP-C information and statistical website and provided training for the professionals who will use the components of the TAPP-C program in the field. Oxford County continues to maintain a strong partnership with the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council and the Center for Addiction & Mental Health.


TAPP-C website created and maintained by Oxford County TAPP-C Steering Committee and COIN