Citing 3 Major Fires in August Caused By Children Playing With Fire, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro Urges Parents and Guardians to Educate and Engage With Children to Prevent Tragedies

August 21, 2016

In response to three serious fires across New York City in the last two weeks that destroyed or damaged multiple buildings, caused dozens of injuries, forced nearly 100 people from their homes and resulted in millions in property damage, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro urges parents and guardians of young children to take immediate action to educate, inform and prevent fire play in and around the home.

“In the last ten days there have been three major fires in our city caused by children playing with fire – destroying or damaging 14 homes and injuring 35 people – including three firefighters who were critically hurt,” said Commissioner Nigro. “These are preventable fires and parents and guardians must ensure the children under their care are properly supervised, and that they don’t have access to matches, lighters, open flames or other potentially dangerous sources of fire.”

Commissioner Nigro is also urging parents who have children that have demonstrated an unhealthy curiosity for fire to reach out to the FDNY’s Juvenile Fire-setters Intervention Program. In the program, specially trained FDNY Fire Marshals will evaluate and educate children up to the age of 12 who have engaged in fire play. Parents can contact the program by calling 718-722-3600. Parents and guardians can also visit for educational material to help talk to their children about the dangers of fire, as well as ways to help keep their homes fire safe.

A recent study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cites nearly 50,000 fires are caused nationwide by juveniles playing with fire each year – resulting in an average of 80 deaths, 860 injuries and more than $235 million in property damage.

Details on 3 recent fires in New York City:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 9, fourth-alarm fire originating in a two-story private dwelling at 636 East 235th Street in the Bronx completely destroyed one building and damaged another three structures. Two Firefighters suffered critical injuries at the fire; a third Firefighter from Queens whose unit was sent to the Bronx to provide additional fire coverage was critically injured in an unrelated accident.
    Cause of the fire: Children playing with fire and a dish towel on a stovetop.
  • Saturday, Aug. 13, a second alarm fire occurred at 221-30 111th Avenue in Queens, a two-story residential building resulting in eight injuries (four firefighters, four civilians – none life-threatening). Cause of the fire: children playing with matches.
  • Thursday, Aug. 18, a six-alarm fire on Staten Island started in a three-story residential home at 228 Benziger Avenue, completely destroying three homes and damaging four others. There were a total of 23 non-life threating injuries (20 Firefighters, three civilians).
    Cause: children playing with matches.

More Information:

Fire Safety Literature:

Translated Fire Safety Literature:

  • Download Keeping Children Fire Safe Materials in Creole (PDF)
  • Download Keeping Children Fire Safe Materials in Chinese (PDF)
  • Download Keeping Children Fire Safe Materials in Italian (PDF)
  • Download Keeping Children Fire Safe Materials in Korean (PDF)
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  • Download Keeping Children Fire Safe Materials in Spanish (PDF)