Fire Investigation

Pertinent information regarding the bureau within the Fire Department that investigates fires of suspicious origin.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Chief Fire Investigator

Fire Captain Adam Owens

Contact information:
Phone: (314) 289-1903 
Fax: (314) 533-1681 
E-mail: OwensAD@stlouis-mo.gov


UNIT INFORMATION:
It is the responsibility of the Department's investigators to conduct origin and cause investigations at all fire fatalities, serious fire-related injuries, explosions, intentionally set fires, suspicious fires, and undetermined fires in occupied or recently vacated buildings. The unit's primary obligations are scene examination, discovery, evidence recovery, photography, and documentation of the findings. Collecting and maintaining information from incident reports is an added function of the unit.

The St. Louis Fire Department's Fire Investigation Unit works in close coordination with the St. Louis Police Bomb and Arson Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in the course of determining a fire or explosion's cause. 

The average citizen is a wealth of information; if he or she is observant at the time of discovery. If you need to report a fire, dial "9-1-1" immediately, while taking mental notes of what you see. The following are some of the most important questions that need answering: Where exactly did you first see smoke or fire?  Did you smell smoke prior to discovery?  Did you smell anything else at the time of discovery? Were there any doors or windows that were open or broken?  Were there any people around the building at the time of or shortly before the fire?  Has anyone forced any doors or windows trying to help victims?  Who owns or occupies the structure?  How do we get in touch with the owner or occupant?  The answers to these questions are very important for the Fire Investigation Unit to accurately determine the cause of a fire.

Many times witnesses see and hear important events, but do not inform the firefighters or fire investigators on the scene. When a person leaves without telling the authorities of the findings, that information may be lost forever. Please help us solve these destructive puzzles. Fire safety is a community project. Help your community by helping your Fire Department. PLEASE SHARE YOUR INFORMATION !!

UNIT HISTORY:

The late Deputy Chief Arthur C. Newman, Fire Marshal, initiated and orchestrated the Fire Investigating Unit in August, 1972, with the late Captain Daniel S. Austin appointed as the commander. The unit functioned in an "origin and cause" capacity until it was disbanded in April, 1980.

In January, 1986, newly appointed Fire Chief Neil J. Svetanics reinstated the unit and assigned Captain Ronald F. Gronemeyer as Chief Investigator. The unit operated with seven specially trained and certified investigators manning three shifts and performing staff functions. Under the command of Chief Investigator Gronemeyer, the unit expanded in size and responsibility, increasing to nine certified investigators.

 

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