Guide for parents

The best way to teach children about fire safety is by example. Let your children see you being sensible and careful about cooking, candles and other potential fire risks. Find out more about talking to children about fire and what they should do if there is one.

Talking to your children about fire

Give children under five clear instructions of what they should and shouldn't do. With older children, it's better to also explain why. You will probably need to talk about fire safety more than once, to make sure they have remembered and understood what you have taught them. Tell them:

  • to tell a grown-up if they see matches or lighters lying around
  • never to play with matches, lighters or lighted candles
  • never to take the batteries out of a smoke alarm to power a toy
  • never to play, or leave toys, close to a fire or heater
  • not to put things on top of heaters or lights
  • not to pull on electric cables or fiddle with electrical appliances or sockets
  • never to switch on the cooker or put anything on top of it
  • never to touch any saucepans on the cooker


Fire instructions for children

It's important to talk through with children what to do if there is a fire - don't avoid it for fear of frightening them. Children need to know the basics of how to react, as there may not be an adult around to tell them what to do if a fire happens. Here are the basic instructions to give to your children

  • if they see smoke or flames, they should tell someone straight away - a grown-up if possible
  • get out of the building as soon as possible
  • never go back into the building for anything
  • never hide in a cupboard or under a bed - get out of the house and call for help straight away
  • find a phone and call 999, and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service - give the address of the fire slowly and calmly (they may need to go to the neighbours to find a phone)
  • Make sure that children know their address so they can raise the alarm.


What to do if your child has an unhealthy interest in fire

The fire service runs a scheme called Firesetter Intervention which involves fire service staff visiting children who play or have a fascination with fire. This is always with the permission of the parent or guardian and the visit takes place in the child's own home.

This is a completely free service and we’ve helped hundreds of families through the scheme.

During the visit, children and their families/household learn the consequences of playing with fire and the success rate is extremely high.

There are many reasons why children set fire to things - sometimes it is experimenting; sometimes it is under peer pressure from friends or siblings. But sometimes it is a cry for help, or to seek attention.

Whatever the reason, the important thing is to contact us if you are concerned about your child and their fascination with fire.

We would rather visit now than have to visit when your house is on fire.

You can request a visit by using our contact form, or telephoning us on 0800 9179994 and leaving a message on the automated voicemail system.


Hoax calls

A hoax or malicious call is when a person deliberately telephones the fire, police or ambulance service and tells them there is an emergency when there is not.

We would urge parents and guardians to tell their children about the consequences of making hoax calls to emergency services.

The greatest consequence is that if we are dealing with a hoax call, we may be delayed getting to a real emergency where someone's life is in danger - and that person in danger could be the hoax caller's family member or friend.

Any person who makes a hoax call is committing a criminal offence. The actual law states that a hoax caller is 'a person who for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, sends, or causes to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that the person knows to be false'.

A person making a hoax call to emergency services can be taken to court and may face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or be sent to prison for six months.

All calls to the emergency services are voice recorded and the number of the telephone being used to make the call is displayed to the emergency operator. It only takes a few seconds for the operator to find out the address of where the call is being made from and this can be given to the police if a hoax call has been made. Other facilities such as CCTV can, and are, used to detect offenders.