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Child & Youth Fire Safety Programs

Barrie Fire and Emergency Service teaches people of all ages how to make responsible choices regarding health and safety. One of our most important commitments is to give people the knowledge and skills they need to lead safer lives.

If you have a group that is interested in a fire safety program not listed here, please contact our Fire Prevention staff at (705) 728-3199 or We may be able to tailor an educational program for you!

Arson prevention program for children aged 2–17 years

If your child or teenager is involved in fire-play or fire setting, you are not alone. Many children and teenagers have a fascination with fire.  It’s important to understand that while curiosity about fire is natural, fire-play can be dangerous. Unfortunately many children die or are injured in fires they start themselves.

TAPP-C is free of charge and available to children aged 2–17 years. The TAPP-C program brings together fire service and counselling professionals to help families deal with children and teens involved in fire-play. BFES personnel educate children and their families about fire-safety practices. Counselling professionals assess the risk of continued fire involvement and help children and families deal with issues that may contribute to fire setting.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is fire-play?

Fire-play can be many things:

  • Playing with matches and lighters
  • Playing with accelerants, like body sprays or aerosols
  • Playing with a toaster, stove or furnace
  • Burning items such as toys, paper or garbage
  • Setting a fire to destroy something or hurt someone

If you notice any of the following, your child may be involved in fire-play:

  • Matches or lighters go missing
  • Matches or lighters are found among your child’s belongings
  • There are burn marks on household items or your child’s clothing or possessions
  • Your child is extremely interested in fire
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
  • Smell of sulphur in the child's bedroom
  • Toys or other personal effects that appear melted or singed

Help is available: Fire setting presents an enormous risk to children, teenagers, their families and the community. Fire involvement can be a sign of other problems in a child’s life. Fire-play can start out small and progress to larger and more serious fires that threaten the safety of the child and the family. It is important that you deal with any fire involvement immediately. Contact to speak with one of our TAPP-C experts. You can also get more information and find a mental health expert in your area by going to

Why do children do these things?

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

Angry or upset over something or someone
Children often have difficulty displaying their true feelings or emotions. Often, 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.

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 paper burns. 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 eyes).

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.

How does the TAPP-C program work?

The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C) involves professionals from fire departments and community agencies across Ontario. The program will provide strategies to deal effectively with a child's fire-play or fire-setting.

The program tries 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 fire-play or fire-setting behaviour among children and to keep them and their families safe from fire. We offer fire safety education training through our own Barrie Firefighters and TAPP-C fire-play /fire-setting risk assessments from local mental health agencies.

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

  • A home safety 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 fire-play or fire-setting in the future.
  • The child may be recommended to receive counseling.
  • Two 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 fire-play or fire-setting.

play safe! be safe!
For Children ages 3–5

play safe! be safe! is an award-winning fire safety education program created especially for children ages 3–5, developed by BIC Corporation in cooperation with educators and fire safety experts. In 2014, BFES hosted a play safe! be safe! workshop for daycare centres in Simcoe County. If you would like to book a visit to support the program or to learn more, please call 705-728-3199.

Travelling Sparky
For Grade One Classes 

"This is such an integral and important program. We really appreciate the participation of the City of Barrie Fire and Emergency Service with this initiative." – Laura S., Steele Street Public School

Travelling Sparky is available to Grade One classes and has been running in Barrie since the fall of 2010. Fire staff visit the schools in September and drop off a package for each participating classroom, consisting of:

  • 1 Sparky Picture
  • 1 Scrap Book (Manila Tag Paper)
  • 1 Barrie Fire & Emergency Service Tote Bag
  • 30 Fire Safety Checklists

Each child will have an opportunity to take Sparky home, complete the fire safety checklist with their family and record the experience onto two pages of the scrap book through pictures, drawings and writing. Firefighters visit in the spring after each student has spent a week with Sparky.  During the spring visit, firefighters review the students’ scrap book, talk about firefighting, show off the gear and conduct a fire truck tour.

This program covers reading, writing, art, community helpers, health, public speaking, family involvement and adds a little excitement in the classroom towards the end of the school year. Most importantly, the program will reduce the students’ chances of experiencing a fire and will address smoke alarm issues in the family’s home. Register for Travelling Sparky.


Students in the Traveling Sparky program will receive an 11x17 template placemat, so they can draw a fire safety message.

Placemats will be collected and laminated then distributed to the community to brighten up the meals delivered by Meals on Wheels and our vulnerable occupancies.

Deadline for entries is October 29, 2020 with the draw taking place on November 2, 2020.

The lucky student and their classroom will receive a pizza lunch delivered by Sparky the week of November 9 - 13, 2020.

For Children: Learn Not To Burn (LNTB)

Learn Not to Burn has served as the pillar of NFPA educational programs for more than 40 years. LNTB programs reach children using proven educational strategies that incorporate positive, practical fire safety messaging. LNTB® focuses on teaching 22 key fire safety behaviours to children from kindergarten to grade 8 through the core curriculum in their classrooms.

The LNTB pre-school program is designed to teach eight basic fire and burn-prevention behaviours to children in pre-school and daycare centres (age 3–5 years), using songs, games and activities. The lessons are short, simple and encourage active participation. The program includes a 60-page teacher's guide that features detailed lesson plans, fire safety background information, letters to parents and reproducible colouring sheets.

For Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts

Based on the Learn Not to Burn principals, our Fire Safety Education program for Girl Guides and Scouts Canada is a two-part program:

Part 1:  A Fire Prevention Officer will visit the group at their regular meeting location and cover eight basic fire and burn-prevention principles.  The groups will be left with a fire safety homework assignment, home escape plan and fire drill. 

Part 2: A review of the home escape plans and discussion about the fire drill at the fire station, followed up by a station tour. Any participant that brings in a completed home escape plan will receive a Learn Not To Burn certificate and will have the information they need to obtain their relevant Fire Safety badge.


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