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Fire Investigation Team
Fire investigations make up a vital component of fire department operations. Accurate fire origin and cause determinations are essential to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Elgin from fire and explosions. As a result of thorough and accurate fire investigations, future incidents and crimes can be prevented, and responsible parties can be held accountable.
Responsibility & Methodology
The Fire Investigation Team is a component of the Elgin Fire Department Special Operations Division. Our jurisdiction is the corporate limits of the City of Elgin and properties covered by fire protection agreements. The team is mandated to determine fire origin and cause by City of Elgin ordinance and Illinois State Law.
The team consists of certified fire investigators who are led by the team leader and overseen by the Special Operations Captain and Assistant Chief of Operations. Investigators are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to investigations. Team response time is under one hour from call out to the arrival on scene regardless of the time of day, the day of the week, or the weather.
The Fire Investigation Team conducts systematic investigations following NFPA 921, the national standard for fire investigations. The many facets of an investigation include scene examination and analysis, photograph and video documentation, evidence recognition and collection, diagrams, interviews, and reporting. The investigations are based on facts and evidence and utilize the scientific method, which provides a widely accepted organizational and analytical process.
The Fire Investigation Team routinely works with other organizations including detectives from the Elgin Police Department, Arson Investigators and K-9 handlers with the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM), the regional Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and Investigators with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Qualifications & Continuing Education
Each investigator begins by completing the three week training course on fire investigation and passing the comprehensive examination. The training entails both classroom and practical evolutions and results in certification as a fire investigator by the Office of the Illinois State Marshal (OSFM).
Continuing education and experience requirements call for investigators to re-certify every four years. The team accomplishes continuing education through in house training, Strike Force training, and training opportunities provided by the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators. All training and education are applied toward the IAAI Certified Fire Investigator (CFI), which is an industry standard certification.