Fire starting – what makes young people do it, which interventions work


Event type Webcast

FREE live stream. There is also a second session on Friday 16 July with different content, booking gives access to both.
Only ACAMH Members receive a CPD certificate for attending.

Led by criminologist Joanna Foster, these two interactive workshop explores what is known about children and teenagers who set fires. Booking on session 1 automatically books you onto session 2. Book now via this Zoom link.

Please note CPD certificates are available for ACAMH Members only at this free event. For a discount code to join ACAMH please email

Having specialised in this field of work for nearly two decades, Joanna will draw upon both the available research and her frontline client work throughout the workshop, to ensure evidence-based best practice at all times is referred to. Joanna works alongside leading international experts in the field of risk assessment, and has a first-hand knowledge of safeguarding and child protection legislation. Clinical advice and supervision is taken from from leading international experts in the field of juvenile firesetting, including Professor David Kolko.

Session 1 

Session 2 – Friday 16 July
A range of hands-on activities will be used that are suitable for curious toddlers through to risk-taking teenagers.

14.00 Part 1: Fire safety education versus psychosocial education – what the research tells us

15.00 Break

15.10 Part 2: Practical strategies in direct work – from toddlers through to teens

15.40 Q&A

16.00 Close

Session 2 resources

Illinois fatal fire

Loyalist Bonfires in Northern Ireland

Firehawks project

Kenyan school fires

‘Children and Teenagers Who Set Fires; Why they do it and how to help’


Jez’s Lucky Day 

Learning outcomes include

  • An overview on why children and adolescents start fires
  • Insight on how to address these issues
  • Interventions and sources of support for those involved in this

Who should attend

These FREE sessions will be of particular interest to psychologists, psychiatrists, clinicians, educational psychologists, social workers, teachers, pastoral support workers, community liaison workers, those that work with children and young people affected with mental health issues, and potentially parents. Book now via this Zoom link.

About the Speaker

Joanna Foster
Joanna Foster

After graduating from Oxford University, Joanna gained over sixteen years’ experience of working in
the public, charitable and voluntary sectors, including ten years managing the London Fire Brigade’s
Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme. As manager, Joanna worked with hundreds of London’s
most at-risk children and families, and re-shaped the JFIS programme in line with statutory
requirements to ensure the highest possible standards for clients and staff. Using her working
knowledge and training in children’s safeguarding and wellbeing, Joanna worked closely with the
London Child Protection Committee to introduce juvenile firesetting behaviour into the London Child
Protection Procedures for the first time. In 2010, Joanna’s work with two clients was filmed as part of
the BBC2 documentary series Wonderland, in an episode entitled ‘The Kids That Play With Fire’.
In June 2013 Joanna launched fabtic, a company specialising in juvenile firesetting behaviour.
Joanna now delivers training, consultancy and supervision services to front-line practitioners.
She continues to work directly with children and teenagers who set fires, working both privately
with families and via referrals from public sector organisations. Joanna’s professional clients
include practitioners from the NHS, CAHMS, HMPPS, YOT, forensic psychology, fire services, police,
education, social care, academia, arts therapies, secure units and mental health services. She has also
trained practitioners in the US. She has also developed and delivered workshops tailored specifically
to parents and carers whose children set fires. Although specialising in juvenile firesetting, Joanna’s
work and studies enable her to deliver training and workshops that cover the spectrum of children and
families’ wellbeing needs.

Joanna has a Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, and recently completed her Master’s in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management at Cambridge
University. Her thesis explored the identification of risk and need when working with children who set
fires. Her work continues to attract media attention and in October 2016 featured in the Financial Times in an article entitled ‘I Stop Children Setting Fires’. Joanna’s first book ‘Children and Teenagers Who Set Fires: Why they do it and how to help’ was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2019. Joanna has spoken at national and international conferences in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, New Zealand and the US on the subjects of juvenile firesetting and children’s safeguarding. In response to COVID-19, Joanna now provides direct client services, training and supervision online. She also launched her YouTube channel ‘FEwithJo’ to provide free online resources for practitioners, parents and carers.