Fire Marshal History
The County of Allegheny within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a population of 1.3 million residents. The land area of the county is 730 square miles. The County serves as a major industrial, technological, cultural, and transportation center.
On March 2, 1998 the County of Allegheny officially declared war on those individuals who would use fire to intimidate, cover up other crimes, recover fraudulent insurance monies, and cause injuries or death. A clear message was sent to those who would use fire for their own or other's personal gain or profit; "If you set a fire in Allegheny County you will be pursued with all aggressiveness, and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law."
The Allegheny County Arson Response Team is a joint investigative unit. It utilizes five (5) trained Fire Investigators and one Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms certified Accelerent Canine from the Office of the County Fire Marshal along with three (3) Detectives from the County Police Bureau. Complementing the Team is a strong working relationship with the County's District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Office, and the Coroner and Crime Laboratory Office.
This team structure has been modeled according to recognized national standards in developing Arson Investigative Units. On each fire response, both a Fire Investigator and a Police Detective are dispatched. The Origin and Cause Investigation and the potential Criminal Investigation start simultaneously when the ACART Team arrives at the scene.
The ACART Team works cooperatively with local municipalities in all aspects of the fire scene investigation and continues through the prosecution of the responsible individual. Within the County, excluding the City of Pittsburgh, there are approximately 200 volunteer municipal fire departments. Although some do have an appointed individual who is the fire marshal of that jurisdiction, they may not have the educational expertise or financial resources of the ACART team members when it comes to the investigation of an incident.