A task force is formed between MFD & MPD, ATF, the State Fire Marshal, and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office
This week, the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD), in collaboration with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the State Fire Marshal; and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, announced the establishment of a Fire Investigation Task Force. The MFD will work closely with MPD to investigate all fire incidents which the damage to the property exceeds $500; injuries or loss of life which occur to occupants of emergency response personnel; the cause of fire is suspicious, incendiary or undetermined; the fire is a second alarm or higher; and/or anytime the MFD request the unit to arrive on scene. The Fire Investigation Unit will be staffed on a 24-hour basis with one MFD captain and two lieutenants who will respond to fire incidents with MPD arson investigators.
"The Milwaukee Fire Department is excited to collaborate with the Milwaukee Police Department, and all involved agencies, to establish a Fire Investigation Task Force that will use the expertise of all to reduce and eliminate arson fires," said MFD Chief Douglas A. Holton. "Overall, arson is a complicated issue to tackle, but with all the involved agencies working together I believe we can make a real difference in the City of Milwaukee."
The MFD Fire Investigation Unit, along with MPD arson investigators, will arrive to all fire scenes in which the damage is over $500. Upon arrival, the Fire Investigation Unit will report to the incident commander and obtain any information regarding origin and cause of the fire. One fire lieutenant and police detective will respond on the initial fire call. The two will decide if other investigators are needed. The fire lieutenant will take control of the fire ground and begin the investigation once the fire is extinguished and the fire command officer on the ground has relinquished control. If the cause of the fire is determined as arson, the police detective will be in charge of the scene and the fire lieutenant will assist in the investigation. If the cause is non-criminal, the fire lieutenant remains in charge and the detective will assist.
"We are pleased to join with our partners in fire investigation, which brings together the strengths of all our participating agencies," Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn said. "The collaboration of our agencies in this and other efforts ultimately means greater safety for Milwaukee residents."
The MFD Fire Investigation Unit, in conjunction with MPD, has the authority to investigate the origin, cause and circumstances of every fire, explosion or hazardous materials emergency in which the fire department has a reasonable interest. When the fire investigator has reason to believe that a fire, explosion or hazardous materials incident may be the result of a violation of any law, the investigator will immediately take custody and safeguard all physical evidence in connection with the incident. Both departments will work closely with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office to help prosecute arsonists.
"The establishment of a Fire Investigation Task Force will have a positive impact on the City of Milwaukee ," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "The collaboration of all involved agencies will enhance the fervent prosecution required to increase public awareness of arson, and thereby, reduce the frequency in which this crime is committed."