(1) The State Fire Marshal may in his or her discretion take or cause to be taken the testimony on oath of a person whom he or she believes to be cognizant of any facts in relation to matters under investigation.
(2) If the State Fire Marshal is of the opinion that there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with an offense, he or she must cause the arrest of such person and must furnish to the prosecuting officer of any court having jurisdiction of the offense all information obtained by him or her, including a copy of all pertinent and material testimony taken, together with the names and addresses of all witnesses. In the conduct of such investigations, the State Fire Marshal may request such assistance as may reasonably be given by such prosecuting officers and other local officials.
(3) The State Fire Marshal may summon and compel the attendance of witnesses before him or her to testify in relation to any matter which is, by this chapter, a subject of inquiry and investigation, and he or she may require the production of any book, paper, or document deemed pertinent thereto by him or her, and may seize furniture and other personal property to be held for evidence.
(4) A person so summoned and so testifying shall be entitled to the same witness fees and mileage as provided for witnesses testifying in the circuit courts of this state, and officers serving subpoenas or orders of the State Fire Marshal shall be paid in like manner for like services in such courts, from the funds herein provided.
(5) Any agent designated by the State Fire Marshal for such purposes may hold hearings, sign and issue subpoenas, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive evidence, and require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of such accounts, records, memoranda, or other evidence, as may be material for the determination of any complaint or conducting any inquiry or investigation under this chapter. In the case of disobedience to a subpoena, the State Fire Marshal or her or his agent may invoke the aid of any court of competent jurisdiction in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of accounts, records, memoranda, or other evidence and any such court may in case of refusal to obey a subpoena issued to a person, issue an order requiring the person to appear before the State Fire Marshal’s agent or produce accounts, records, memoranda, or other evidence, as so ordered, or to give evidence touching any matter pertinent to any complaint or the subject of any inquiry or investigation, and any failure to obey such order of the court shall be punished by the court as contempt.
(6) Upon request, the State Fire Marshal shall investigate the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires and explosions occurring in this state wherein property has been damaged or destroyed and there is probable cause to believe that the fire or explosion was the result of carelessness or design.
(a) Any time a fire or explosion has occurred which results in property damage or destruction in any municipality, county, or special district having an organized fire department, any local fire official whose intent is to request the State Fire Marshal to perform an investigation shall make or shall cause to be made an initial investigation of the circumstances surrounding the cause and origin of the fire or explosion. Law enforcement officers may conduct such initial investigation.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 633.112
- Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
- Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
- Department: means the Department of Financial Services. See Florida Statutes 633.102
- Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
- person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
- Personal property: All property that is not real property.
- Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
- Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.
- Testify: Answer questions in court.
- Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
(b) If the fire or explosion occurs in a municipality, county, or special district that does not have an organized fire department or designated arson investigations unit within its law enforcement providers, the municipality, county, or special district may request the State Fire Marshal to conduct the initial investigation.
(c) The State Fire Marshal shall adopt rules to assist local fire officials and law enforcement officers in determining the established responsibilities with respect to the initial or preliminary assessment of fire and explosion scenes, and the determination of whether probable cause exists to refer such scenes to the State Fire Marshal for an investigation.
(7) The State Fire Marshal shall keep a record of all fires and explosions occurring in this state upon which she or he had caused an investigation to be made and all facts concerning the same. These records, obtained or prepared by the State Fire Marshal pursuant to her or his investigation, include documents, papers, letters, maps, diagrams, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, and evidence. These records are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) until the investigation is completed or ceases to be active. For purposes of this section, an investigation is considered “active” while such investigation is being conducted by the department with a reasonable, good faith belief that it may lead to the filing of administrative, civil, or criminal proceedings. An investigation does not cease to be active if the department is proceeding with reasonable dispatch, and there is a good faith belief that action may be initiated by the department or other administrative or law enforcement agency. Further, these documents, papers, letters, maps, diagrams, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, and evidence relative to the subject of an investigation shall not be subject to subpoena until the investigation is completed or ceases to be active, unless the State Fire Marshal consents. These records shall be made daily from the reports furnished the State Fire Marshal by her or his agents or others.
(8) Whenever the State Fire Marshal releases an investigative report, any person requesting a copy of the report shall pay in advance, and the State Fire Marshal shall collect in advance, notwithstanding the provisions of s. 624.501(19)(a) and (b), a fee of $10 for the copy of the report, which fee shall be deposited into the Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund. The State Fire Marshal may release the report without charge to any state attorney or to any law enforcement agency or fire department assisting in the investigation.