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State Fire Investigators are sworn law enforcement officers in the State of Maine 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 three ways, accidental, intentional human element, 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 (intentional human element), the investigator completes interviews and gathers evidence to determine suspects of the crime of Arson (Class A), under the Maine Criminal Statutes 17-A.
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. This agency is the representative of the Attorney General's Office in the area of fire investigations and explosions. An unattended fire death is considered evidence and the investigation must be thorough and complete before listing the cause as an accidental fire.
State Fire Investigators make arrests, write summons, 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. A case booklet is prepared for the District Attorney's Office in the county where the crime occurred. Once all the facts of the case are gathered and reviewed, the case is submitted to the local 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. Investigators must qualify as an expert witness in the area of fire science in a court of law in each case they participate. In addition, many cases that the Fire Marshal's Office deals with are linked to other crimes such as fraud or homicide.
Additional responsibilities include conducting fireworks inspections, processing complaints, investigation of accidents, training fire and police departments to investigate fires, utilizing accelerant detection K-9s at fire scenes, training and caring for K-9s, and speaking engagements.
Because of the varied types of fire investigations, the investigators work daily with members of all types of professions including attorneys, doctors, financial administrators, banks and other financial institutions, all law enforcement agencies, and fire departments throughout the State of Maine, not to mention the Attorney General, the US Attorney, ATF, and others.
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