The CFO also stands at the helm of the Division of State Fire Marshal and assumes the title of Florida’s Fire Marshal. This division works alongside the Department’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation (BAFI) and incorporates the Bureau of Fire Prevention & Bureau of Fire Standards and Training.
Together, these entities help to mitigate the risk associated with fire in Florida by enforcing engineering/construction standards, investing in the exploration of new building and fire prevention techniques, and supporting public fire safety education.
We open this section with a somewhat recent violation which helps highlight the authority of the Fire Marshal (CFO) and the collaborative relationship which exist between local resources such as our fire/police departments, Circuit courts and Department’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigation (BAFI).
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“It is fortunate that no one was injured in this incident. Arson has no place in our state, and if you choose to commit this crime, you will be brought to justice and held accountable. I appreciate the hard work of my arson detectives.”
CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of Alleged Jacksonville Lowe’s Home Improvement Store Arsonists
The Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Crispen Jeremy Hart and Donovan Latravian Frank of Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office requested the assistance of the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services’ Bureau of Fire, Arson, and Explosives Investigations. Each fire location was examined, and it was determined there was no possible way these items ignited without human intervention.
Both Hart and Frank were arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and booked into the Duval County Jail. They currently face arson charges and if convicted, they each face more than 20 years in prison.
DSF | The Fire Marshal and BFAI
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) is a law enforcement branch of the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services and is primarily responsible for investigating structure fires and explosions statewide.
Typically, when a fire erupts evidence points to a series of related events or one singular occurrence. In the Lowes incident, investigators were able to rely on video surveillance and the fact, evidence pointed to several unignitable locations where fires had apparently started without cause.
Collaboration – Notice in the above example the fire was initially addressed by the local Sherriff’s Department who referred to investigation to the Departments BFAI.
Armed with the Authority of the Florida insurance code, DFS investigators were able to conducted interviews and obtained witness testimonies. Once the investigation uncovered enough evidence to proceed with a conviction the matter, along with all relevant evidence was then delivered to local authorities who assisted in the arrest of the suspect.
Authority – In matters such as the Arson described, the BFAI and the Fire Marshal have the authority to hold hearings, sign & issue subpoenas, administer oaths,
When an individual is uncooperative or believed to be in the possession of relevant documentation or material evidence, the Fire Marshal & BFAI may “summon or compel” the production of the evidence and the individuals’ attendance. In some instances, private property may be seized if deemed necessary to the investigation. Due to the nature of the CFO’s responsibility as Fire Marshal, the Florida Insurance Code grants him the authority to appoint agents for investigative purposes. Once appointed, these individuals conduct business with the full authority of the Division of the State Fire Marshal.
If an individual were to ignore the request for a testimony or documentation, the Fire Marshal or his agent must be forwarded the matter to a local court with the authority to “issue an Order” requiring the individual to obey. If the individual defies the court’s order to comply, they would be deemed in contempt and therefore punished by the court.