The Fire & Explosive Investigation Section consists of thirty-two Massachusetts State Police officers who make up the Fire Investigation Unit and the State Police Bomb Squad. Each unit has a self-contained command and control structure and a specific jurisdiction to serve. Many of the investigators have been cross-trained to assist the other sections in time of need.
Specially trained Massachusetts State Police detectives have functioned as State Fire Marshal investigators for more than fifty years. The Fire Investigation Unit has 17 members assigned to four regional teams: North, South Central and West. This includes six nationally certified accelerant detection canine teams (handlers and dogs).
By law, the local fire department is responsible for determining the origin and cause of each fire or explosion in its jurisdiction. The State Fire Marshal is mandated to investigate 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 or may be incendiary nature.
The Fire Investigation Unit uses a witness-driven protocol based on the National Fire Protection Association Standard (NFPA) 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations. Key to the protocol is a team concept of fire investigation where local fire and police, state police and sometimes federal investigators work together.
The State Police Bomb Squad has 12 bomb technicians, including nine nationally certified explosive detection canine teams (dogs and handlers). These teams are deployed regionally across the state. The F&EIS has many specialized resources available to assist municipal fire and police to conduct fire or explosion investigations. The state’s Bomb Squad has always been in the State Fire Marshals’ office, but has grown from two civilians to the 11 specially trained State Police officers today.
The office for the Fire & Explosion Investigation Section is located in the Department of Fire Services, State Road, Stow, MA 01775.
Contact the Fire and Explosion Investigation Section
Business Hours: 978- 567-3310
Arson Hotline: 1-800-682-9229
Main Fax: 978-567-3119
24-Hour Emergency Activation
Call your State Police Troop Duty Officer directly or call State Police Dispatch at 508-820-2121 and ask to be connected. Tell the Troop Duty Officer to have the Fire Investigator or the State Police Bomb Technician on-call contact you immediately.
Fire Investigator Certification
Fire investigator certification in Massachusetts is provided to stimulate the professional development of public safety fire investigators in Massachusetts by allowing eligible members a means to demonstrate their ability to meet professional qualification standards through an objective measure of their professional knowledge, skills, and abilities. The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition is authorized by the Secretary of Public Safety to provide public safety fire investigator certification for the Commonwealth. The Coalition is made from representatives of the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, The Massachusetts Municipal Police Committee and the Massachusetts State Police. For more information read the Frequently Asked Questions on the process.
The next 6-day Advanced Fire Investigation course will be held September 26-28, and October 12-14, 2016 in Stow. Deadline to register is August 15, 2016. This course will cover state-of-the -art investigation practices for individuals new to fire investigation as well as provide new concepts for those experienced fire investigators. In a practical exercise, students will be assigned to one of four fire investigation teams. In turn, each team will investigate and evaluate a fire scene to determine the area of origin, the ignition source, the materials first ignited and the ignition sequence of the fire. Students will also be acquainted with the use of accelerant detection K-9s, learn to properly prepare diagrams, conduct interviews, record the fire scene with photographic documentation and establish field notes of the incident scene. Students will be able to identify, collect and preserve evidence using the proper physical and legal procedures. This course will provide information that will allow the student to make presentations in legal settings as well as aid in the preparation of reports that will be useful in their participation of a mock civil and criminal trial proceeding.