State Fire Marshal - Fire Investigations

Fire Investigations Contact Information

Phone: 601-359-9232

Fire Investigations Duties and Statutory Authority

A. Fire Investigation

  1. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to be established and maintained is granted under Section 45-11-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

    "The Commissioner of Insurance, by virtue of his office, is the State Fire Marshal and shall appoint the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal who, along with these employees, shall be designated as a division of the Insurance Department, the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal shall be a person qualified by experience and training and thoroughly knowledgeable in the areas of arson investigation and prevention, fire prevention, fire fighting and the training of firemen. The State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal shall serve at the pleasure of the Commissioner of Insurance.

    The State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal employs such Deputy State Fire Marshals as are necessary and in accordance with availability of funds. Deputy Fire Marshals shall be deployed across the state in order to provide effective service to fire scenes."

  2. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to investigate general fires in the state is granted under Section 45-11-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

    "It shall be the duty of the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal to investigate, by himself or his deputy, the origin of every fire occurring within the state which his attention is called by the chief of the fire department or other law enforcement authority of any county of municipality. It shall also be his duty to investigate any case requested by any party in interest, whenever, in his judgment, there be sufficient evidence or circumstances indicating that such fire may be of incendiary origin. All county and municipal law enforcement authorities shall cooperate with the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal in such investigations. This section shall not be construed to impair the duty and power of county and municipal law enforcement authorities to investigate any fire occurring within his or their jurisdiction."

  3. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to investigate specific fires which occur on state properties and places of public assembly is granted under the Mississippi Fire Prevention Code, Section 45-11-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

    "The Mississippi Fire Prevention Code shall be enforced by the State Fire Marshal and such other persons as authorized thereby, including for this reason any County or Municipal Fire Prevention Personnel pertaining to the prevention, inspection or investigation of fire. The State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal and State Deputy Fire Marshals shall have the status and powers of a law enforcement officer in performing their duties under the Mississippi Fire Prevention Code as authorized by standards set by Section 45-11-103, Mississippi Code of 1972. The State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal and State Deputy Fire Marshals serving under permanent appointment on January 1, 1992 shall not be required to meet any requirements of Section 45-6-11 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. The State Fire Marshal is authorized and empowered to promulgate rules and regulations for the enforcement of the Mississippi Fire Prevention Code."

    The Fire Official shall enforce the provisions of this Code and all State laws under his jurisdiction pertaining to the prevention, suppression or extinguishing of fires. The Fire Official shall have the powers of a police officer in performing his duties under this Code (1.03 Standard Fire Prevention Code, 1976 Edition, Section 45-11-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated):

    1. The Fire Official or his duly authorized agent shall investigate promptly the cause, origin and circumstances of each and every fire occurring in his jurisdiction involving loss of life or injury to person or destruction or damage to property, and if it appears that such fire is of suspicious origin, the Fire Official shall take immediate charge of all physical evidence relating to the cause of the fire and shall pursue the investigation to its conclusion. A report in writing shall be of all facts and findings relative to each investigation.
    2. The Law Enforcement Department shall assist the Fire Department in its investigations whenever requested to do so (1.11 Standard Fire Prevention Code 1976 Edition, Section 45-11-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated).
  4. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to maintain and release criminal records is granted under Section 45-11-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

    "The State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal shall maintain in his office a record of all fires investigated by him or his deputy, including evidence obtained as to the origin of each such fire. Such records shall at all times be subject to inspection by any party of interest in the fire loss; provided, however, that record or report of an investigation shall be subject to inspection pending such investigation or while same is in progress, and if a report of an investigation contains any evidence of arson or other felony, same shall not be subject to inspection by any person other than the district attorney and county attorney of the county in which such evidence indicates that arson or other felony may have been committed, except upon the written approval of such district attorney or the order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Provided that in cases where a person has been arrested for the crimes of arson, attempted arson, or any other felony, the defendant or his attorney shall have access to these records. Any physical evidence of arson or other felony shall be delivered to the custody of the sheriff of the county wherein such fire occurred."

B. Establishment and Maintenance of Fire Damage Registry

1. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to "Establishment and Maintenance of Registry of fire damages; provision of information by insurance companies and public agencies; promulgation of rules," is granted under Section 45-11-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

  1. The State Fire Marshal shall establish a Registry of fire damage in all instances of fires causing Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or more in property damage or in which any person is injured or loses his life.
  2. The Registry established shall be complied and maintained in a manner whereby data may be retrieved by subject categories, including, but not limited to, the following:
    1. Geographic location;
    2. Damages in monetary terms;
    3. Insured; and
    4. Tenant or resident
  3. All insurance companies doing business in this State and all Public Agencies shall supply such information as may be demanded by the State Fire Marshal with respect to this Section.
  4. The State Fire Marshal shall promulgate all rules necessary for the implementation of this Section in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act."

C. Building Inspection for Dangerous or Hazardous Conditions

1. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to investigate and establish, "Proceedings in regard to dangerous or hazardous inflammable conditions existing in building", is granted under Section 45-11-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

"Whenever the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal, or his authorized representative shall be advised by interested persons of a dangerous or hazardous property, he shall take proper proceedings, flammable condition, existing in any building that would tend to impair the safety of persons or including furnishing of all information in regard thereto to the Attorney General who shall, if he finds such evidence sufficient, bring injunctive proceedings to have the condition corrected. Provided that this section may not apply in any instance where local fire departments or other local agencies have the authority to correct such conditions."

D. Funding

1. The authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal to be funded: "Expenses of the Office of State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal and State Fire Academy", is granted by Section 45-11-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated:

"Any expense, including office supplies, counsel fees, expenses of deputy, detective and officers, incurred by the Commissioner of Insurance in the performance of the duties imposed upon him by the provisions of Sections 45-11-1 and 45-11-3, and the operation of the State Fire Academy, as provided in Section 45-11-7, shall be defrayed by all insurance companies, including stock, mutuals and reciprocals writing fire insurance, including the fire insurance components of automobile insurance, dwelling multiple peril insurance, farm multiple peril insurance and commercial multiple peril insurance, doing business in this state; and a tax of one-half of one percent (1/2 of 1%) of the gross premium receipts of such fire insurance policies is hereby levied for this purpose to be collected by the State Tax Commission as other taxes on insurance companies are collected . . . ."


Fire Investigations Additional Information

Arson Reward