Fire Investigation

The staff of the Fire Marshal's Office is responsible for investigating fires, explosions and other emergency incidents within the township to determine the origin and cause of such incidents. The goal of these investigations is to determine if the incident was accidental or intentional, and if training, education, or other actions can be taken to increase public safety and reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future. These investigations may be a cooperative effort by the Fire Marshal's Office, the Hatfield Township Police Department and other public sector agencies to identify those involved and reduce the crime of arson in the community.

The National Fire Protection Association publishes the NFPA Standard 921 Guide for Fire & Explosion Investigations, which is considered the standard for these investigations. NFPA 921 recommends that investigators utilize a systematic approach and scientific methodology during every investigation. Fire investigators, like law enforcement officers, are held to stringent standards by the courts when conducting investigations, including proper interview and interrogation procedures, scene documentation, collection and preservation of evidence, and case preparation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will determine the classification of the cause of the fire or explosion to be one of the following:

  • Accidental - Not caused by an intentional human act to ignite or spread the fire.
  • Natural - The result of lightening, earthquake, or other natural event or phenomenon.
  • Incendiary - Intentional ignition of a fire when the person knows the fire should not be ignited.
  • Undetermined - When the cause cannot be determined to an acceptable level of certainty.

The staff of the Fire Marshal's Office is certified as fire and explosion investigators by national and international fire investigator associations, as well as the National Fire Service Professional Qualifications System (Pro Board). The staff must maintain these certifications, as well as their high level of proficiency in all aspects of fire and explosion investigations through constant training and continuing education at the local, state and national levels.