ADVISORY

To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Det. Lt. Martin T. Foley, Fire and Explosion Section, Massachusetts State Police
Date: April 1, 2005
Re: Fire and Explosion Investigation Section (F&EIS)

Due to the vast number of newly appointed fire chiefs within the state, we thought this would be a good opportunity to update heads of fire departments with a basic overview of the Fire and Explosion Investigation Section (F&EIS) of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. In addition, we have attached a separate Contact Information sheet for your use and distribution to dispatch.

Fire and Explosion Investigation Section (F&EIS) -

The Unit has four highly trained fire investigation teams, working Monday thru Friday 0830-1700 hours, who are on duty across the Commonwealth. During off hours and weekends, the Unit maintains on call investigators. (See the attached Contact Information sheet for information on contacting investigators during the normal shift schedule as well as afterhours and weekends).

Our investigators are trained to conduct team-oriented investigations with municipal police and fire departments, and many of our investigators are nationally certified fire investigators who have received additional professional education in interviewing and interrogation methods. In addition, we have certified accelerant detection canines dispersed throughout the state to assist with investigations. Our officers have built professional working relationships with communities in their area, and we would like to reiterate our desire to work cooperatively with your department on fire and explosion investigations and provide assistance to both police and fire departments as needed.

In addition, the Unit has excellent relationships with the County District Attorneys' offices. In order to effectively prosecute arson fires, they routinely consult with the assistant district attorneys assigned to fire and explosion investigations. With the field of fire/explosive investigation evolving, criminal cases involving arson have come under increased scrutiny. There are liability concerns relating to spoliation of evidence and inappropriate training issues, which cooperative investigations can mitigate. In addition, recent legal changes have made the process of taking potential suspects' statements more complicated for use in criminal proceedings. The District Attorney's Office and the Fire and Explosion Investigation Section have mutually agreed that these cases can be most successfully pursued when this team approach to investigation is pursued. With the new challenges of terrorism, we believe professional cooperation and partnership is more important than ever.

F&EIS/Hazardous Devices Unit (Bomb Squad)

The F&EIS/Hazardous Devices Unit (Bomb Squad) also has two teams of certified bomb technicians working Monday thru Friday 0830-1700 hours, and they are also on-duty across the Commonwealth. During off hours and weekends, the Unit maintains on call investigators. (See the attached Contact Information sheet for information on contacting bomb squad techs during the normal shift schedule as well as afterhours and weekends).The unit has detection canines to assist with investigations. These techs will respond to emergency and non-emergency situations including:

  • Suspicious packages
  • Improvised explosive devices
  • Pick-up/disposal of fireworks
  • Disposal of old/deteriorated explosives
  • Disposal of military ordnance

The techs also conduct:

  • Instructional seminars for public safety and private concerns (Seminars qualify for OEMS credit for EMT Continuing Education)
  • Explosive incident risk assessments

Overview of Chapter 148 Section 2 Investigations of Fire or Explosions - Annotated

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 148: Section 2 requires that the head of fire departments notify the state fire marshal for certain fires.

They (heads of fire departments) shall begin such investigation forthwith after such fire or explosion, and if it appears to the official making such investigation, that the fire or explosion is

  1. of suspicious origin,
  2. is the result of a violation of law,
  3. or if he is unable to determine the cause, he shall immediately notify the Marshal.


Fire and Explosion Investigation Section
& Hazardous Devices Unit
Contact Information

As representatives of the State Fire Marshal under Chapter 148, State Police investigators/bomb squad technicians can be contacted as follows:



Contact Location

Contact Number

Day/Eves (0830-1700 hours):

F&EIS Main office

978-567-3310

Afterhours/Weekends:

State Police Communications Section

508-820-2121

1. The Communications Section will page the on-call investigator/bomb squad tech.

2. The duty investigator/bomb squad tech will contact your department directly.