Iowa Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division
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July 5, 1911 - Duties of the State Fire Marshal

Iinvestigating the cause of fires and compiling reports. This was accomplished by requiring Fire Chiefs where they existed, Mayors or Township Clerks where they didn't have Mayors to investigate the cause of every fire and report the same along with the particulars to the State Fire Marshal. The State Fire Marshal categorized them and annually reported the cause and damage costs to the Governor. When any of these fires are caused by a violation of fire laws or criminal intent, the State Fire Marshal proceeds with a full investigation, makes necessary arrests, and turns their findings over to the courts for prosecution.

The office is charged with conducting inspections for fire safety and given the necessary sections in the code to accomplish this. This pertains basically to condemnations and fire hazards.

The State Fire Marshal also kept records of deaths caused by fire that occurred in Iowa.

Present Duties of the State Fire Marshal

According to the Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) Chapter 5 Fire Marshal Section 661-5.1(100): "This division's charter is to prevent fires. Fire causes are determined and communicated to the public by various means including the division's annual report. The division requires building standards necessary for fire safety and apprehends those who violate such standards or fire related criminal statutes. (04-20-1988)

Building Plan Approval: The proposed construction of some buildings, or additions, alterations or changes to existing buildings needs the approval of the State Fire Marshal. Building Code Examiners are tasked to review construction plans to determine if said building projects meet current fire and life safety codes in addition to handicapped accessibility.

Fire Prevention Inspections: Fire Prevention Inspectors determine if buildings meet fire codes of various types adopted by the State of Iowa. Inspectors enter buildings or premises at any time without notice to inspect for compliance to fire safety rules.

Inspectors conduct inspections of the following:

  • State inspected buildings (schools, day cares, care centers, jails, hospitals, state owned properties, prisons and other correctional facilities)
  • Flammable liquids (above ground storage tanks involving flammable liquids or liquid propane)
  • Assisted Living homes
  • Federal inspected buildings (health care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals)
  • Modular homes, manufactured homes, HUD complaints
  • Any fire or life safety related complaint within the State of Iowa
  • Condemnations of dilapidated property

Fire Service Training Bureau: Responsible for training over 900 fire departments throughout the State of Iowa. The FSTB was moved to the State Fire Marshal to oversee all training of fire departments in Iowa. The FSTB adopts standards for career and volunteer fire fighters and researches important issues affecting the fire service. The FSTB serves as a facilitator to acquire grant monies to assist departments in purchasing equipment and provides free or cost effective training to fire departments.

Arson and Explosives Bureau: Special Agents are tasked with investigating fires within the State of Iowa and determine the origin and cause of said fires. Agents work in conjunction with local authorities to bring to trial those responsible for intentionally setting fires to property. Special Agents utilize numerous tools for the purpose of determining the origin of fires.

Special Agents are certified as Hazardous Materials Technicians and Clandestine Laboratory Technicians that are trained to enter, seize, and clean up methamphetamine laboratories. Agents handle a wide variety of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. Agents work with CLERT (Clandestine Laboratory Emergency Response Teams) and local law enforcement.

Special Agents are certified as Bomb Technicians that are trained to identify, handle, inspect and render safe explosives and impoverished explosive devices. Agents use a variety of tools to render safe dangerous devices involving explosives or weapons of mass destruction.

Suppot Staff: Administrative assistants are responsible for record keeping and compiling information from employees and fire departments to complete the annual report. Administrative assistants organize and review federal paperwork to assure state compliance with inspections. Fire department incident reports are compiled by the support staff to record fire causes, fire damage costs, smoke detector facts, and fire deaths within the state.

Electrical Inspections: Inspectors with the Electrical Inspections Bureau are non-sworn certified electricians that inspect all commercial and multi family residential occupancies as required by law. This bureau was initiated in 2009 and covers the entire State of Iowa. Staff are supported by electrical inspection fees.

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Iowa Department of Public Safety
State Fire Marshal Division
215 East 7th Street | Des Moines, Iowa 50319 | 515-725-6145

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