Fire Investigation

Fire Investigation

The Fire Investigator is responsible for the investigation of all fires that have a suspicious or undetermined cause and origin, and/or where injury and/or fire death has occurred. The Fire Investigations Division also works with all other law enforcement agencies dealing with the crime of arson.

The overall goal of this division is to conduct responsible investigations to determine origin, cause and circumstances of each fire involving loss of life and/or injury to persons or by which property has been destroyed or damaged. It is the intent of this division to determine if the fire is a result of carelessness or design.

It is the Fire Investigations Divisions’ priority to investigate all suspicious fires from time of inception to time of prosecution. Also, in the event that there is a fire death or burn victim, investigators also conduct a complete investigation as to the cause of the fire.

Once a fire has been determined to be arson, this division works together on the investigation, the collection of evidence, the arrest of the suspect, the court appearance, and ultimately, and hopefully, the conviction of an arsonist.

Arson fires are typically set by:

  • Criminals covering up other crimes.
  • People seeking revenge.
  • Profit motivated individuals attempting to defraud insurance companies.
  • Some emotionally disturbed people of all ages.
  • Vandals looking for excitement.

Results of arson:

  • Every year hundreds of people die in arson related fires.
  • Every year millions of dollars are lost to property damage in arson related fires.
  • Every year thousands of people are put out of work because of arson related fires.

Arson Prevention Tips:

  • Lock all doors and windows in your home, garage, gates and vehicles.
  • Provide exterior lighting around your home at night.
  • Secure a back alley or easement to restrict entry by intruders.
  • Trim shrubs that may provide a possible source of combustion or cover for a criminal lurking at night.
  • Ask neighbours to help keep an eye on your home, offering to do likewise for them.
  • Concentrate on monitoring houses where the residents are away, such as on vacation.
  • Make sure there are no sources of combustible materials left outdoors in the open, such as rags, wood, gasoline cans, newspapers or old furniture.
  • Lock and chain barbecue propane tanks (including spare tanks) to prevent them from being used as a source of flammable material.
  • Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every level of your home and test them monthly to confirm that they are operational.
  • Plan and practice a family fire escape plan, with two ways outside to a designated meeting place.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Report any suspicious person(s) or events to the police immediately.

To report any suspicious activity please click the link below:

Midlands Crime Stoppers Anonymous tip line  

1-888-Crime-SC

 

Contact Person

matthew-jenkins-pic
Fire Investigations, Matthew P. Jenkins

1612 Bull Street Columbia, SC 29201

Phone (803) 545-3716    cfdmjenkins@columbiasc.net