Investigators are sworn law enforcement officers in the State of Texas with major responsibilities. Among these responsibilities is the task of conducting investigations of fires and explosions for origin and cause. Fires are classified in one of four ways, accidental, incendiary, natural or undetermined, and it is up to the investigator to classify a fire as such. If it is determined that a fire is an arson, the investigator completes interviews and gathers evidence to determine suspects of the crime of Arson (28.02), Texas Penal Code Title 7; Ch. 28 Offenses Against Property.
All fire scene, explosions, and other types of investigations are documented in any of several ways. Photographs (including digital),video tapes, diagrams, and any information obtained are documented in the form of tape recorded interviews, written statements, or a summary of interviews.
The investigators are responsible for investigating all fatal and serious personal injury fires to determine the cause. This is done in an attempt to prevent such fires in the future.An unattended fire death is considered evidence and the investigation must be thorough and complete before listing the cause as an accidental fire.
Fire Investigators make arrests, write citations, and conduct administrative and criminal search warrants throughout the investigation process. They interview complainants, suspects, and witnesses to develop information for the case and collect and process evidence from the scene. Once all the facts of the case are gathered and reviewed, the case is submitted to the District Attorney for possible prosecution of arson or associated crimes. If the decision is made to prosecute a case, the investigator works closely with the D.A. throughout the grand jury process and during the trial, assisting them with any details as needed for court preparation and presentation.
Additional responsibilities include conducting fireworks inspections, investigating complaints, investigation of accidents, training fire and police departments, utilizing accelerant detection K-9s at fire scenes, and speaking engagements.
Because of the various types of fire investigations, the investigators work daily with members of all types of professions including attorneys, doctors, financial administrators, banks and other institutions, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments throughout the State of Texas.