15.010 - Arson Investigations

Effective Date:  08/10/2020


The Arson/Bomb Squad (ABS), in coordination with SFD’s Fire Investigation Unit (Fire Marshal 5), conducts on-scene and follow-up investigations on some fire calls.

- Fire Marshal 5 investigates suspicious fires to determine the cause and origin of each fire.

1. Sergeants Screen Fire Calls for Possible ABS Response

Sergeants screen fire calls with ABS when the calls involve:

- An arson as determined by Fire Marshal 5.

- For arsons, Fire Marshal 5 will contact the on-call ABS sergeant. Patrol sergeants will confirm that Fire Marshal 5 has contacted ABS and will document that information in the report.

- A death or life-threatening injury.

- Significant property damage caused by criminal activity.

- Fire bombings related to civil disturbances.

- A suspect in custody for arson.

Small fires that do not meet the above criteria generally do not require an ABS response.

- Patrol sergeants may contact the on-call ABS sergeant via email for questions about small fires.

- Communications will provide the Patrol sergeant with the name of the on-call ABS sergeant for this purpose.

Sergeants do not need to call ABS for suspects charged with misdemeanor reckless burning or property damage.

2. Officers Complete Reports for The Following Fire Calls

Officers write a Report for all of the following fire calls, unless advised otherwise by an Arson/Bomb Squad sergeant:

- Arson, reckless burning and property damage caused by fire.

- Fires involving suspicious circumstances, including fires that appear to be started with a malicious intent.

- A death or life-threatening injury.

- Significant property damage.