Fire Investigation Team
In addition to responding to routine fire and EMS calls on Engine 11, the FIT is consulted about or dispatched to fires throughout the city. Investigators are tasked with attempting to determine where the fire started (its “origin”) and how the fire ignited (its “cause”).
In accordance with Wisconsin state statute, any fire resulting in $500 worth of damage or more must be investigated. Additionally, City of Madison ordinance requires any fire resulting in damage worth $25 or more to be investigated. The FIT uses the scientific method to determine the origin, cause, and circumstance of a fire.
The MFD FIT is specially trained to read fire patterns and examine other evidence to identify a fire’s cause and origin. In some cases, the FIT may work closely with Madison Police detectives as part of a joint task force. When needed, the department can also call upon the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the local fire investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for assistance.
The team approach to investigation allows the four on-duty members of Engine Co. 11 to split the duties of photographing the scene, conducting interviews, and processing evidence to increase efficiency. In total, there are 21 people dedicated to the FIT across three different shifts, including core team members and satellite team members.
Thorough and accurate fire investigations mean future incidents can be prevented and, in cases of arson, responsible parties can be held accountable.