RURAL Arson Control
for investigative activities. For example, inspecting nursing homes is a revenue producer for state governments. Accordingly, state fire marshals who also perform double duty as fire investigators and inspectors frequently encounter pressure to meet their nursing home inspection quota.
No states reviewed as part of this study have developed guidelines to establish whether or not investigative workloads are excessive. This is understandable in light of the fact that few state officials expected additional investigative resources to be authorized by state legislators. Absent a sharp drop in arson incident rates, or local investigative resources assuming greater responsibility for investigating rural arson, state investigators were seen as likely to remain chronically over-extended..
Arson Control Expert Concurrence
One or more of the following options might help statesand local resources meet their common responsibilities, including:. Establish alternative working relationships such as having local law enforcement agencies assume a greater role in investigative activities; Assign investigators to full-time investigative duties; Increase manpower through measures such as insurance premium sur- charges; Assign more investigators; Reduce the number of investigations requiring state investigators to respond by making more efficient use of local fire officials to screen-out fires that should be handled locally Manage caseloads by assessing case solvability factors before investing time in follow-up investigation. This would be a formal program involv- ing investigators and their supervisors in a closely-monitored case man- agement system
State and local officials concerned about investigators’ workloads would benefit from a USFA-sponsored study that surveyed state investigative workloads, established criteria for determining unacceptable caseload levels, and laid out alternative strategies to reduce excessive investigator workloads.
New York State, Department of State, Office of Fire Prevention and Control has adopted an approach to arson investigation that emphasizes maximum devel- opment of local capability. This approach provides investigative training and services to local investigative teams. The result has been a substantial increase in the number of trained arson investigators available in rural areas.
Wayne County, New York, which has a team trained under the above system, uses the following approach:
When a local Fire Chief calls out the investigating team, two fire volunteers and one law enforcement investigator respond. The county has an evidence collec- tion van but investigative team members carry evidence collection kits in their cars. The Wayne County, New York program uses five volunteer investigators