Firefighter Training, Legal

USFA Offers New Round of Fire/Arson Investigation Management Studies for Fire and Law Enforcement Agencies

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has announced the beginning of its 15th annual program of providing direct technical assistance to selected State and local fire investigation agencies. This project is part of USFA’s ongoing effort to strengthen and enhance the work of fire investigation units across the country.

“Arson is increasingly experienced as a violent crime committed for many different reasons,” said R. David Paulison, United States Fire Administrator. “USFA’s technical assistance focuses heavily on improving the working relationships among fire, police, prosecutors and other state or federal agencies by suggesting strategies for closer cooperation.”

“Case prioritization and management, arson data collection and analysis, investigation reports, training, and time-of-day staffing coverage also are key components of the site reviews.”

USFA provides this assistance to help improve arrest and conviction rates and promote arson prevention by highlighting the positive features of a jurisdiction’s arson control operations, recommending options for resolving problem areas, and identifying potential inter-agency and community anti-arson partnerships. The Arson Control Assistance results in a confidential report with guidelines to improve arson investigations and case outcomes.

The program already has proven to be a valuable service to over 120 State and local jurisdictions. Any state, county, or city fire investigation agency interested in participating should meet the following criteria:

  1. Have a sincere interest in ascertaining the strengths and problem areas of their fire investigation and arson control programs and operations;
  2. Investigate a minimum of 200 fires per year, a significant portion of which are determined to be incendiary;
  3. Provide the necessary application materials and background information, and cooperate with the designated technical assistance team in scheduling the field work;
  4. Implement as many of the recommendations as feasible;
  5. To ensure the continued success and quality of the Arson Technical Assistance program, USFA requires that all agencies selected to participate in this project be willing, six to nine months later, to complete an evaluation regarding the quality of the site-work performed, and to report on the status of implementing the recommendations contained in the final report.
The field assessment and technical assistance on arson control is organized around three stages. The following brief description will give departments an idea of what to expect.

Stage One – Information collection and preparation. We use the information on your application to get a basic idea of your current situation, and what problems you are facing. To obtain a more complete picture we ask for a package of information to be used to study and prepare for the site visit. We also work with the jurisdictions, developing a list of people who will be interviewed and to schedule the interviews and meetings for our site visit.

Stage Two – Site visit and field work. USFA’s fire investigation and arson control experts will spend approximately three days in your area. We will conduct interviews and meetings, review additional data, and analyze information from all relevant sources. We will hold a kick-off meeting to explain the project to all principals; later, we will meet with selected officials to review the main issues and close out the field work.

Stage Three – Preparation of draft and final report. After the site visit, we will complete a draft report containing a description of your jurisdiction and of your arson control measures. The report also will highlight the positive features found and discuss the problem areas. Recommendations for improvements and changes will be itemized. You will have three weeks to review and provide comments on the draft report. We then will prepare the final report. You are asked to implement as many of the recommendations as feasible.

For information on how to apply for this program contact: USFA-Arson Investigation Technical Assistance Project, Joseph Ockershausen, Project Manager, TriData Corporation, 1000 Wilson Boulevard, 30th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 351-8300; Fax: (703) 351-8383, email: [email protected]

Applications are due no later than December 31, 2002 and may be downloaded from the USFA Web site at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/dhtml/media/02-arson-tech-asst.cfm.