Arson & Explosives Division
Investigations Division Overview
The Fire/ Arson & Explosives Investigations Division works to keep the citizens of Bexar County safe by investigating the origin and cause of fires and explosions, enforcing laws relating to fire and explosives, and by defeating threats against Bexar County's infrastructure and emergency responders. The Division serves as the criminal law enforcement arm of the Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office (BCFMO) and the Office of Emergency Management. The Investigations Division provides the BCFMO with 24-hour investigative response capability 365 days a year through a rotating on-call schedule.
The Investigations Division is currently comprised of six full time Deputy Fire Marshal Investigators, one Sergeant Investigator, one Investigator/Canine Handler, and one Chief Investigator. Each field investigator carries a case load of approximately 50-70 cases per year. As an integral component of the Division, Accelerant Detection Canine (ADC) "Roe" is trained and certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to detect traces of ignitable liquids at fire scenes for forensic testing.
The Investigations Division is a highly-trained law enforcement unit with rigorous certification requirements. All investigators are sworn and commissioned Texas Peace Officers, with full arrest, search, and seizure authority. Division personnel are criminal investigators who specialize in arson and explosives investigation. In addition to extensive law enforcement and criminal investigative training, all are required to be certified fire and arson investigators by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. Fire Marshal Investigators also receive extensive training in bomb and post-blast investigations. All Fire Marshal Investigators have at least a basic understanding of firefighting and rescue tactics and most are experienced firefighters. Several investigators are certified in Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Investigation Techniques, as well as emergency medical care. All investigators are required to undergo frequent firearms and tactics training as well. The Investigations Division maintains a variety of specialized operational capabilities including a fully equipped regional response vehicle, electronic forensic measures, and both urban and rural surveillance capabilities.
The Investigations Division responds as part of a joint Task Force with the ATF- San Antonio Field Office throughout the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) Region at the request of outside jurisdictions in order to assist with investigations of fire and explosion incidents.
If a fire or explosion is determined to be accidental, Fire Marshal Investigators identify what hazardous conditions or practices, if any, existed which may have contributed to the ignition and spread of the fire. This aids public fire education efforts and helps prevent similar fires from occurring in the future.
If a fire or explosion is determined to have been intentionally set or if other criminal conduct is discovered during the course of an investigation, Fire Marshal Investigators will continue to investigate the case until a suspect is identified, located, and apprehended.
Investigators file criminal cases with the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney's Office and continue to work with a prosecuting attorney towards a successful resolution. If a Federal arson or explosives statute is violated then Fire Marshal Investigators will work with Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in order to file the case with the United States Attorney's Office in the Western District of Texas.
In addition, Fire Marshal Investigators conduct numerous training and education classes for fire and law enforcement personnel on a wide variety of topics such as criminal investigations and fire and explosives safety. Investigators teach several classes open to children and the general public on fire safety in general and arson prevention in particular.
To Report a Suspicious Fire:
- Call Bexar County Fire Marshall at 210-335-0300
- Call Crime Stoppers at 210-207-7867
- San Antonio Arson Hotline at 210-227-3473
Remember, you may remain anonymous!
Currently, the Fire and Arson Investigation Division engages in a wide array of activities that are critical to the public's safety:
- Conduct Fire and Post-Blast Investigations on:
- The origin, cause, and circumstances for all significant fire/explosion incidents
- Injuries and fatalities related to fires/explosions
- Hazardous Material responses or Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Incidents
- Conduct criminal investigations into all offenses relating to fire, arson, and explosives, as well as associated crimes such as criminal homicide, insurance fraud, burglary, bomb threats, hoax bombs, and organized criminal activity
- Enforce laws relating to fire/explosion incidents
- Apprehend arson and explosive fugitives
- Obtain and execute search and arrest warrants
- Carry out background checks on explosive/blaster permit applicants
- Conduct Threat Assessments for Critical Infrastructure located in unincorporated Bexar County
- Assist the Fire Prevention Bureau in carrying out fire safety inspections, investigating outdoor burning complaints, and assisting with public nuisance investigations
Training and Outreach
- Conduct training classes in arson investigation and tactical field care
- Conduct training classes on fire and explosive safety for area Fire Service, Law Enforcement, and E.M.S. agencies, as well as the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney's Office
- Conduct public education in arson prevention and awareness, provide fire-safety education to area community groups and school audiences, and participate in career day activities
- Respond throughout the AACOG Region to support municipal, private, volunteer, and ESD fire departments and local law enforcement agencies in their investigation of major fire, arson, and post-blast scenes, and provide continued criminal investigative support as requested
- Provide technical assistance to the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office and Bexar Count Criminal District Attorney’s Office when so requested
- Assist Bexar County Fire Departments in the protection of their assets and personnel