Deputy State Fire Marshals (DSFM) are sworn police officers who enforce Maryland law and have the legislative responsibility to investigate the origin and cause of fires and explosions throughout the state of Maryland. If the cause of the fire is determined to be criminal in nature the Deputy continues the investigation into the arson or explosive incident. Most DSFM's are certified as fire investigators through the National Fire Service Professional Qualifications Board and/or the International Association of Arson Investigators.
An investigation into a fire or explosion is often originated by a request from a first responding fire or police department. A statewide dispatch center receives the requests and alerts the regional on call DSFM. At least one DSFM is always on call and available to respond to requests within their assigned region twenty-four hours a day, everyday. Private citizens and property owners can also make a request for an investigator through the local police department or 911 center.
The DSFM normally is responsible for all aspects of the investigation including scene examination, evidence collection, photography, interview & interrogation, and effecting an arrest when appropriate. During larger or more complex investigations a team of DSFM's and a Supervisor may respond to the scene. The Office of the State Fire Marshal also operate an accelerant detection canine program. This program is assigned under the commander of the Bomb Squad / Special Operations group. The accelerant detection canines are assigned throughout the state and are certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF).
Deputy State Fire Marshals also are responsible for the enforcement of the State Fire Prevention Code which is performed during fire and life safety inspections.
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