A quick way to reach the Investigation division, is by sending an email to osfminv@ks.gov
Arson Hotline

Investigation

The Fire Investigation Division is charged with determining the origin and cause of fires throughout the State.  Fire investigators also serve as instructors for local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, collect evidence at fire scenes, collaborate with other state and federal agencies, conduct criminal investigations and provide public education.

Most Kansas fire departments and law enforcement agencies do not have a certified fire investigator on staff, and they will request our assistance when they suspect a fire had an incendiary cause, when fatality or serious injury occurs, and when property damage is severe.

When a determination is made that a fire was caused by arson, a careful and complete investigation will follow. In cooperation with local law enforcement officials and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, our investigators will completely evaluate the fire scene for evidence and conduct interviews.

Arson is a complex crime, sometimes committed as part of an insurance fraud; sometimes committed to conceal other crimes such as burglary, embezzlement or even homicide.

Fire Investigators with the OSFM are sworn law enforcement officers and carry out all aspects of criminal investigations, including the arrest and conviction of arsonists. The Investigation Division conducts polygraph examinations in relation to these criminal investigations.

The Investigation Division maintains investigative files and databases for investigations and both explosive and fireworks licensing. The division utilizes the NCIC system for background checks on all explosive and fireworks licensing applications. The Investigation Division works and cooperates with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in reference to investigations, data sharing, and licensing.

Fire Investigations

The Investigation Division provides experienced fire investigators to assist local fire departments and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires and explosions. This assistance is provided when a request is made by the local jurisdiction. Our fire investigators conduct criminal investigations when the incident is determined to be criminal in nature, such as arson.

This team also certifies fire investigators for local fire departments. This certification allows investigators to have law enforcement authority when conducting fire investigations. There are currently two certification levels: CFI I and CFI II.

Explosives and Fireworks

The Investigation Division deals with explosive and fireworks permits for the State of Kansas. Fire investigators are assigned to conducting storage site inspections and complaint-driven civil and criminal investigations. The investigators respond to pre- and post-blast incidents. Explosive safety, awareness, and investigative classes are conducted for both the public safety community and the private explosive industry.

Investigation News

Fire Marshal Focuses on Preventing Residential Arson in Arson Awareness Week

User Not Found | May 13, 2013
The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) in Kansas joins the United States Fire Administration (USFA) in dedicating the week of May 5-11 as Arson Awareness Week. The purpose for this week is the recognition, awareness and understanding of one of our nation’s most dangerous and costly threats to people and property – arson.

TOPEKA - May 6, 2013 - The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) in Kansas joins the United States Fire Administration (USFA) in dedicating the week of May 5-11 as Arson Awareness Week. The purpose for this week is the recognition, awareness and understanding of one of our nation’s most dangerous and costly threats to people and property – arson.

The theme for this year’s Arson Awareness Week is “Reducing Residential Arson.” The goal of this year’s campaign is to provide residents with strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods.

According to the USFA, there are more than 16,000 intentionally set fires in homes across the United States each year. These fires result in an estimated 300 deaths, 700 injuries and $500 million in direct property damage. In Kansas, 127 arsons were reported to the OSFM from local certified fire investigators in 2012, and an additional 87 cases were investigated by OSFM staff – including three fatalities and two injuries.

Arson is defined as the malicious burning of another’s occupied home or property. This type of illegal activity robs communities of valuable assets, lives and property. It can devastate a community, resulting in the decline of the neighborhood through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue and a decrease in property values.

What are some of the motivating factors associated with arson?

  • Curiosity - A misuse of fire that is most often associated with juveniles.
  • Vandalism – Malicious mischief that may be associated with boredom, peer pressure, or even gang activity.
  • Concealing another Crime – Misuse of fire used to mask another crime such as burglary, larceny or murder.
  • Excitement – Most of these fires are nuisance fires but can escalate to home fires.
  • Revenge – The setting of a fire in retaliation for an actual or perceived injustice.
  • Insurance Fraud/Arson for Profit – A criminal method of obtaining money from a fire loss policy.

To reduce the opportunity for arson in your neighborhood, citizens are encouraged to illuminate the exterior and entrances of their homes, clear obstructions such as bushes or shrubbery, keep doors and windows locked, clean around the home including raking leaves and removing trash, as well as securing abandoned and vacant homes. For more arson prevention tips, visit the OSFM website.