[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Radnor 10-22-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-16. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Investigator shall be appointed by the Township Manager and the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, under their authority as defined in the Radnor Township Code and they shall serve until a successor is duly appointed.
The Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Investigator shall be sworn into office at a public meeting of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners for the purpose of giving them official status and authority to investigate fires.
The Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Investigator are part-time positions that are compensated on an hourly basis at a rate determined by the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners and shall receive no compensation or benefits other than their hourly compensation. Out-of-pocket expenses incurred and mileage reimbursement for the use of a personal car while working are reimbursable.
Radnor Township shall carry workers' compensation, liability, and errors and omission coverage for the Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Investigator.
The Fire Investigator reports directly to the Director of Community Development or his/her duly authorized representative.
The Radnor Township Fire Investigator is responsible for investigating the origin, cause, and circumstances of all Fire Department incidents in the Township to which he/she responds. He/she also provides specialized liaison at emergency scenes as requested, in cooperation with the officer in charge from the individual responding fire companies in whose district the incident occurs, and the Radnor Township Police Department, and for such other duties as may, from time to time, be assigned to him/her by the Director of the Department of Community Development or the Radnor Township Manager. Further, he/she is responsible for completing Fire Investigator investigation reports for incidents that he/she has investigated and for submitting a Fire Department monthly activity report to the Director of Community Development. The monthly activity report contains a summary of response information submitted to him/her by the Township Fire Companies and a listing of responses of special interest. The Fire Investigator(s) shall be a sworn position in Radnor Township without police powers.
In the absence of the Fire Investigator, the Deputy Fire Investigator shall act as Fire Investigator and shall have the full authority and carry out the responsibilities of the Fire Investigator.
All issues and questions dealing with the Fire Code and any other code used by Radnor Township and administered by the Community Development Department shall be referred to the Fire Code Official or designated Township representative for resolution. All issues and questions relating to fires and other emergencies investigated by the Fire Investigator, with the exception of requests for Fire Investigator reports, shall be referred to the Fire Investigator or Radnor Township Police Department, if applicable, for resolution. Fire Investigator report requests are released by the Community Development Department secretarial staff after approval by the Community Development Department.
The Fire Investigator is responsible for investigating the origin and cause and circumstances of all Fire Department incidents in Radnor Township. The Police Department will assist with the investigation as requested by the Fire Investigator. If the Fire Investigator makes the determination that the cause is or may be incendiary, the investigation becomes a criminal investigation and the Police Department assumes primary responsibility for it. At that time, the Fire Investigator shifts to an advisory role and provides technical assistance in the areas of origin, cause, and circumstance to the Police Department.
The Fire Investigator or his/her Deputy shall be notified as soon as possible by the police officer or fire officer in charge of an emergency scene whenever one or more of the following circumstances occur:
When a fire or explosion results in property damage;
When an injury or death of a citizen or emergency responder occurs as a result of a fire or explosion;
When a police officer or fire officer in charge of the incident believes that an investigation should take place;
When a vehicle, train or aircraft fire results in damage to a vehicle or other property. If a damaged vehicle is not obstructing traffic and, in the opinion of the police officer in charge of the scene, it is reasonable to do so, the vehicle should be left at the scene until the Fire Investigator has arrived and has a chance to investigate; if a police officer on the scene has the vehicle(s) towed because of safety or other concerns, the Fire Investigator shall be informed of the vehicle's destination by the police officer in charge of the scene. When personal injury or death occurs as a result of the vehicle fire, the vehicle should be left at the scene until the arrival of the Fire Investigator;
Hazardous material spills;
Any other circumstances in which a police or fire officer in charge of an emergency scene believes appropriate.
If the Fire Investigator or Deputy Fire Investigator has not arrived at the incident scene and the responding fire department is ready to leave the scene and return to service, the scene should be turned over to the Radnor Township Police Department, whose officer in charge at the scene will secure the scene until the Fire Investigator arrives.
The Fire Investigator (Radnor Car 1) or the Deputy Fire Investigator (Radnor Car 1A) should be contacted through the Delaware County Emergency Communications Center by police or fire radio or by telephone (610-892-8404).
When a building emergency exists, and assistance is required from the Community Development Department, a Fire Code Official or Codes Official for Radnor Township shall be notified.
The Fire Investigator is empowered at the scene of a fire or other emergency to contact Fire Code Officials when required. In consultation with the Fire Company and Police Department officials at the scene, they shall decide how to best secure the scene for health and safety purposes, and to protect the integrity of the scene when further investigation is necessary. Fire Code Officials shall determine what infrastructure and resources may be necessary and to authorize expenditure of a reasonable amount of Township funds.
To this end, upon the request of the Fire Investigator, the commanding police officer at the emergency scene will assign one or more police officers to temporarily secure the area until more permanent securing (such as fencing or boarding up) can be implemented. In addition, whenever the Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Investigator are unavailable for making such a decision at an emergency scene, one of the following Township officials should be contacted for appropriate response to the scene and/or decision-making, in the following order:
For incidents in which one of the Township Fire Companies is in charge, information about Fire Department operations shall be released to the news media and the public at large only by the fire officer in charge of the incident or his/her representative.
For liability and other reasons, all information concerning the origin and cause of a fire shall be released to the news media and the public at large only by the Fire Investigator or the Deputy Fire Investigator. Only in their absence may such information be released by one of the following Township officials, and only after consultation with the Fire Investigator or Deputy Fire Investigator:
For incidents at which the Radnor Township Police Department is in charge, all information concerning the origin and cause of a fire shall be released to the news media and the public at large only by the Radnor Township Police Department following their protocols.
Any information concerning a criminal investigation related to a fire shall be released to the news media and the public at large only by the Superintendent of Police, the Lieutenant or their designee. Only in their absence may such information be released by one of the following Radnor Township officials, and only after prior consultation with the Superintendent of Police, Lieutenant or Township Manager.
In the event that both the Fire Investigator and the Deputy Fire Investigator are unavailable, the Fire Chief in whose district of Radnor Township the scene is located, or his/her representative, shall follow these procedures:
For any small fire loss to a structure, vehicle fire, or minor injury where the cause is accidental, the Fire Chief or his/her representative will gather required information, including information about the property, fire, owners, and tenants, and other witnesses. If the Fire Chief or representative is not certain of the area of origin or any part of the ignition sequence, the fire will be classified as undetermined and the Fire Investigator or Deputy will complete the investigation when available. Radnor Township Police Department will assist with initial scene interviews upon request.
Larger fire loss.
For larger fire loss to structure or major injury where the cause appears to be accidental, the Fire Chief or representative will gather as much of the information as possible. The Fire Investigator or Deputy will follow up when available.
If the Fire Chief or representative is not sure that the cause is accidental or, if the cause appears to be incendiary, they will notify the Radnor Police Sergeant on duty and ask that a detective be assigned to assist with initial scene interviews and other parts of the investigation. The Fire Chiefs' role is to determine origin and cause, if possible, and the police role is to conduct any possible criminal investigation. If it is necessary to secure the scene, Radnor Township Police Department will do that on their own initiative or at the Fire Chief's request. The fire officer or police officer in charge will notify the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Investigator and ask that he/she respond to the scene. If the Fire Chief is not available to assist with the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Investigator scene investigation, Radnor Police Department should be asked to provide a detective to serve as a liaison. In all cases, Radnor Police Department is to be kept informed.
The Fire Investigator or Deputy Fire Investigator will follow up when available.