Fire investigations make up a vital component of fire department
operations. Accurate fire origin and cause determinations are essential to
protect the lives and property of the citizens of Elgin from fire and
explosions. As a result of thorough and accurate fire investigations, future
incidents and crimes can be prevented, and responsible parties can be held
The Fire Investigation Team is a component of the Elgin Fire Department Special Operations Division. Our jurisdiction is the corporate limits of the City of Elgin and properties covered by fire protection agreements. The team is mandated to determine fire origin and cause by City of Elgin ordinance and Illinois State Law.
As of 2012, the team consists of eight certified fire investigators who are led by the team leader and overseen by the Special Operations Captain and Assistant Chief of Operations. Investigators are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to investigations. Team response time is under one hour from call out to the arrival on scene regardless of the time of day, the day of the week, or the weather.
On average the Fire Investigation Team completes over 60 comprehensive investigations. Of those fires, close to 20 are determined to be intentionally set, or arson. Almost 30 fires are determined to be accidental and over 20 are undetermined. In addition, the Team evaluates nearly 90 fire incident that did not initially generate an emergency call out. Some of those became the comprehensive investigations mentioned above.
The Fire Investigation Team conducts systematic, thorough, and professional investigations. As stated in the standard for fire investigations, NFPA 921, investigations are a complex endeavor involving skill, technology, knowledge, and science.
The many facets of an investigation include scene examination and analysis, photograph and video documentation, evidence recognition and collection, diagrams, interviews, and reporting. The investigations are based on facts and evidence and utilize the scientific method, which provides a widely accepted organizational and analytical process.
The Fire Investigation Team routinely works with others organizations in the pursuit of the most efficient, thorough, and accurate fire investigations. These organizations are local, state, and federally funded.
The team has relationships with detectives from the Elgin Police Department, Arson Investigators and K-9 handlers with the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM), fellow investigators involved with the Kane County Fire Investigation Task Force and Strike Force, the regional Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and Investigators with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).