Fire and Arson Investigation System
Under Massachusetts law, the local fire chief is legally responsible for conducting an examination to determine the origin and cause of each fire or explosion in his/her community. (M. G. L. Chapter 148 & Chapter 266 s. 1 - 10)
The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal is mandated to investigate the cause and circumstances of fires and explosions where local fire authorities are unable to determine the cause, where a violation of law exists, or when the fire or explosion is classified as suspicious or incendiary nature. By administrative order, the State Fire Marshal also investigates cases involving explosive devices, blast explosions, fires causing fatal or serious injuries or which damage state property or any public records.
The State Fire Marshal's investigators are most often called in to join with rural, suburban or urban fire service and law enforcement investigators in a "team" probe of large scale fires, arsons, and fires or explosions which result in injury or death. In eastern Massachusetts when a fire or explosion is in a category with federal jurisdiction, specially trained agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will join the investigative team. It is our policy to consult with a prosecutor whenever the investigation reveals a possible criminal act.
Fire and arson rates vary greatly among communities. The latest available fire and burn statistics and analysis on fire incidence is maintained by the Fire Data section of the State Fire Marshal's Office.