The Fire Investigations Unit is comprised of the Chief of Investigations and 5 fire investigators. Each investigator holds, at a minimum, certification as a fire investigation technician and all attend numerous trainings and seminars annually. Additionally, all members are sworn law enforcement officers with statewide jurisdiction who may initiate criminal proceedings for violations of the general laws insofar as the laws relate to fires, fire prevention, fire investigations, and explosions.
Fire investigators are authorized by statute to respond to any fire or apparently attempted fire and investigate the cause or origin of the fire. They also respond to every fire of suspicious origin and any fire that results in a fatality. The Unit responds to approximately 300 hundred incidents per year. Investigators follow the “scientific method” and industry guidelines, such as NFPA 921, to establish the cause and determine whether the fire will be classified as accidental, incendiary, natural, or undetermined. Due to the complex nature of fire investigation, members often work closely with other local, state, and federal agencies.
Whenever an individual witnesses or suspects an arson fire, they are encouraged to call the Arson Watch Hotline at (401) 383-7723. An Arson-Watch fund has been established to pay up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the successful prevention of or detection of an arson crime. Specific rules for the Arson Watch Reward Program can be found in the Arson Watch Reward Program brochure.