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State Of West Virginia Fire Investigation Division
Fire and Arson Investigations
State Fire Marshals (SFM) are sworn law enforcement officers who have the statutory responsibility to investigate the origin and cause of fires and explosions and any related crimes throughout the State of West Virginia. They are vested with arrest powers. The investigative division is the premier arson and explosion division in the State of West Virginia. If the cause of a fire is determined to be criminal in nature the State Fire Marshal investigates the incident. Our investigators are highly trained and provide expert analysis and assistance to state and local agencies in fire origin and cause determination and arson investigation.
State Fire Marshals investigate violent crimes involving arson and arson-related crimes. They conduct fire scene examinations, make origin and cause determinations, provide expert witness testimony, and assist other agencies and prosecutors with investigations. SFM's are certified as fire investigators through the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) or the National Association of Certified Fire Investigators (NAFI).
State Fire Marshal investigators have advanced training in fire scene examination. They are responsible for all aspects of the investigation including: evidence collection, photographic documentation, explosives recognition, electronic communications analysis, interviews and interrogation, and arrest procedures. When warranted, the fire marshals make arrests and provide expert testimony at trial.
An investigation into a fire or explosion originates through a request from a fire department, law enforcement, insurance investigator or a citizen. A statewide arson hotline center receives the requests and alerts the regional on-call investigation supervisor. During larger or more complex investigations, a team of investigators and a supervisor may respond to the scene. Some of our investigators are assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) as task force officers. Investigators are on call and available to respond to requests 24 hours a day.
• To prevent the crimes of arson and fraud through education.
• To combat the crimes of arson and fraud through arrest and prosecution.
• To maintain a data base for burn Injuries, fire fatalities, convicted arson offenders, and investigations of fires and other incidents.
• Conduct statistical analysis using data from the ATF Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) and imparting this information to governmental organizations and the public.
• Assist federal, state and local law enforcement and fire departments in investigations and training.
Fire Investigation Request Criteria:
• Fires that result in a fatality or serious injury.
• Fires which appear to be intentionally set as part of an insurance fraud or other criminal activity.
• Fires that will have a significant public impact.
• Fires which indicate trends or a serious consumer safety problem.
• Any fire that involves state or local government-owned property.
Verum Quaerimus De Cineribus
“out of the ashes we seek the truth”
Arson Related Crimes
Explosives Related Crimes
REPORT AN ARSON FIRE OR FATALITY BY CALLING 1-800-233-FIRE