Fire & Arson Investigation
Fire and arson investigations performed by the Leander Fire Marshal's Office (FMO) are jointly executed by both the Fire Department investigators and Leander Police Department, forming a specialized unit responsible for investigating all fire and explosions within the City of Leander. In addition, the City of Leander has Federal, State, County, and local resources readily available for assistance.
The Fire Marshal's Office currently has two of the four investigators Certified through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) as Peace Officers. All Investigators are also certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) as a Fire/Arson Investigator. Each investigator attends regular training in order to maintain certification and remain up to date on the most advanced methods of Fire Investigation.
Fire and arson investigations can be separated into three components:
- Prevention and education
- Determining the origin and cause of the fire
- If determined the cause is arson, conducting a criminal investigation bringing the perpetrator(s) to justice
Every investigation is treated as a possible crime scene in order to properly preserve any evidence that may provide information leading to the origin and cause of the incident. A fire scene is systematically investigated from the area of least damage working backwards towards the area of the most severe damage. In some cases the cause of the fire may be accidental due to faulty electrical wiring, overloaded electrical systems, candles, smoking materials such as cigarettes, faulty motors, cooking fires, or any other type of accidental fires. Other fires are caused by natural conditions, such as, the decomposition of materials (a compost pile), lightning, or spontaneous combustion of particular chemicals.
All investigated fires are classified by four categories, accidental, natural, incendiary (arson), and in some cases the fire damage is so extreme that the fire is classified as undetermined. The FMO routinely investigates fires varying from outside fires, commercial structure fires, house/ apartment fires, vehicle fires, and construction equipment.
Anyone with information about an arson incident is encouraged to call Leander Fire Marshal at 512-528-2847, Williamson County Crime Stoppers at 800-253-7867 or the State Fire Marshal's Office arson hotline, 877-434-7345.
A Bomb Threat Is Not a Prank
Anyone who reports a bombing or fire that they know is false or baseless is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor. However, if the offense is reported to be at a school the penalty is more severe - it's a State Jail Felony.
Acid Bombs, Dry Ice Bombs, Bottle Bombs
These devices are dangerous. They can cause blindness, loss of fingers and hands, or possibly take a life. It's a felony to manufacture or possess one of these explosive devices, punishable from 2 to 10 years in prison.
Penal Code 28.02 Arson
A person commits an offense if he starts a fire or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage: any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land; or any building, habitation, or vehicle: knowing that it is within the city limits of an incorporated city or town; knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction; knowing that it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest; knowing that it is located on property belonging to another; knowing that it has located within it property belonging to another; or when he is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.