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Indiana Department of Homeland Security

IDHS > About IDHS > Fire & Building Safety / Services > Fire Safety & Services > Fire Investigations Fire Investigations

Robert Dean
Chief of Investigations
bdean@dhs.in.gov

Investigations Section
During Business Hours:  7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
(317) 232-6435
Fax: (317) 233-0307

After-Hours Phone (including weekends and holidays):

  • Emergency Operations Center Duty Officer: 1-800-669-7362

The impact of arson is astounding. The destructive force that fire produces can change the course of a person's life in a matter of seconds; their whole world can be destroyed in minutes. The Investigation Branch aggressively pursues the cause and origin of fires to reduce death, injury, and property loss from accidental fires and to solve the cases of intentionally set fires.

The Investigation Branch employs 11 diligent investigators throughout the state. With nearly 900 fires investigated annually, the staff, which includes the chief investigator, two senior investigators and eight field investigators, carries a heavy caseload. Each field investigator, most of whom come from fire service backgrounds, covers anywhere from nine to 13 counties.

Arson in places of worship was finally and dramatically reduced as a result of the efforts of many local, state, and federal agencies. The arrest and conviction of an individual who ignited more than 26 church fires in Indiana alone was a success story of enormous importance. Investigators in the branch played important roles in the effort to identify and convict the arsonist. In addition, the Indiana General Assembly adopted legislation that significantly increased the penalty for those who burn churches in Indiana.

Fire investigation techniques are changing almost as fast as computer technology. The Investigation Branch recognizes the need to be current in all areas of investigation methodology and provides continuing education to all field personnel. In an effort to expand its efforts to make this new information available to the fire service statewide, the Investigation Branch continued its statewide leadership role by providing Indiana's second annual three-day Fire and Arson Investigation Conference, held in Indianapolis.

Education is playing a never-ending role in staying current with fire investigation trends. Each investigator is required to receive in-service training. Some investigators then apply their instructor skills by teaching other organizations about fire and arson investigation.

In cooperation with the Indiana Chapter of the International Association of Investigators, the Arson Hot Line (1-800-382-4628) is stationed in the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The Investigation Branch responds to leads on arson activity and alleged arsonists. Information can also be mailed to: P.O. Box 2282, Indianapolis, IN 46206.