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

Office of the State Fire Marshal Switches to ATF’s Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS)

User Not Found | May 13, 2013
The OSFM will begin using the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) effective July 1, 2013, and all local fire departments with Certified Fire Investigators will need to plan now to transition to this new system. BATS is an invaluable tool to aid fire departments and fire marshals in their efforts to track arson incidents, manage investigation data, and apprehend arsonists.

TOPEKA – April 25, 2013 – Today at the 125th annual meeting of the Kansas Fire Fighters Association, State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen announced his office will begin using the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) effective July 1, 2013, and all local fire departments with Certified Fire Investigators will need to plan now to transition to this new system. BATS is an invaluable tool to aid fire departments and fire marshals in their efforts to track arson incidents, manage investigation data, and apprehend arsonists. 

After researching various report programs for bomb and arson incidents, to include the current state reporting system and input from other investigators, the Office of the State Fire Marshal made the decision to switch to BATS. Developed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), BATS is a web-based system which enables public safety agencies to share information locally and nationally. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has been entering data into the BATS system for several years now as a secondary system.  Starting in July 2013 all of the state’s report information will be entered into this national database.

A key advantage of switching to BATS is that it is incredibly easy to use by local fire departments and will give investigators the ability to search a nationwide database of fire-related incidents – either by type of fire or by suspect. With this data in hand, investigators will be better equipped to identify trends and potentially identify cases involving serial arsonists.

 

“Currently fire investigators are only able to search through data that’s currently in our database, which isn’t a complete picture because not all agencies have complied with reporting details on fires in Kansas,” says Jorgensen. “Switching to BATS will make it easier for local fire departments to report fires and arsons which, as a result, will provide us with much better and more comprehensive data for reducing fires and prosecuting arsonists.”

 

BATS operates on many levels to support both local investigative needs and national collaboration and trend spotting. For example, investigators will be able to use BATS to find similarities in motives, device components, suspects and crime methodologies for possible investigative leads. Images of arson scenes, improvised explosive devices and crime scenes can also be shared through the BATS secure Web connection.  

Further, investigators will be able to capture details of bomb and arson cases, casualties, dollar losses, fire descriptors, collateral crimes and device components. BATS also allows investigators to use the program as a case management system, enabling them to build their investigations in BATS while maintaining operational security.

 

There are currently over 7,000 authorized BATS users from more than 1,500 local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies across the United States. The system is free to use by local fire departments and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.  All local certified investigators will need to obtain an account with ATF by July 1, 2013 and begin entering their required case information according.  If the local fire investigators do not have an account, they can go to http://www.atf.gov/applications/bats/index.html.

It is critical for fire department personnel to understand that BATS is not intended to replace the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). While the primary mission of NFIRS is to collect fire incident information, BATS is dedicated to documenting and supporting the resulting post-incident investigation in cases involving fire or explosives.