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

Arson Awareness Week: May 3-9

OSFM | May 01, 2015

Fire Marshal Focuses on the advantages of using Accelerant Detection Canines

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) in Kansas joins the United States Fire Administration (USFA) in dedicating the week of May 3-9 as Arson Awareness Week. Governor Sam Brownback signed a Proclamation recognizing this week as Arson Awareness Week in Kansas for the purpose of increasing awareness and understanding of one of the most dangerous and costly threats to people and property – arson.

Governor Brownback signs Arson Awareness Week proclamationThe theme for this year’s Arson Awareness Week is “Accelerant Detection Canines — Sniffing Out Arson.” An accelerant detection canine, such as the dogs used by the Office of the State Fire 

According to the USFA, during 2010-2012, an estimated 17,400 intentionally set fires in residential buildings were reported to U.S. fire departments each year, resulting in 275 civilian deaths, 800 civilian injuries, and $513 million in property loss. For this same time period, an estimated 9,000 intentionally set fires occurred in nonresidential buildings each year resulting in $282 million in property loss.Marshal and a few larger fire departments in Kansas, saves time and money during arson investigations. When an arson dog is used as part of an investigation, there are fewer but more accurate evidence samples, which reduce expenditures at the lab and, ultimately, speed up investigations and provide a higher conviction rate.

In Kansas, from 2010-2014, there were 6,550 “intentional” fires, including a significant number of grass fires, resulting in 13 civilian fatalities, 55 civilian injuries, 38 fire service injuries, and $38 million total property loss.

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: FireMarshal.ks.gov.