Did the shift from institutional to community-based services brought about by deinstitutionalization affect the nature or function of pathological fire setting? The author studied admissions to a state hospital that were precipitated by arson. During a 200-day period, 14 patients accounted for 16 admissions and 17 fires. The data indicate that fires are set by consumers of public sector mental health services to communicate a wish or a need for a change in location of those services. Communicative arson has caused property damage, personal injury, and death and has resulted in a backlash against community alternatives for psychiatric treatment.