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Understanding The Enemy: Profiles and Motivations of an Arsonist

Kendra Weikman | - For sources, see Editor's note.

Curious Fire Setter:

• Typically a younger child with low impulse control.
• Usually a hands-on learner who is active and explores the environment.
• May experience fear, sadness or loss as a result of setting the fire.


• Typically uses matches or lighters and ignites items found in the home.
• Unsophisticated fires set in hidden locations.
• May try to extinguish the fire or may ignore it.

Family or Social Dynamics: :

• Come from various types of homes, but usually have a lack of supervision.
• Have easy access to sources of ignition and a general lack of safety awareness.
• Caregivers may deny their child’s involvement and often respond with fear and embarrassment to a fire setting incident. They may have tried to stop the child’s behavior.

Next: The Troubled Fire Starter