Inspections & Investigations
About the Division of Inspections and Investigations
The Fire Department is responsible for the inspection of area businesses to ensure compliance with the Statewide Fire Code. State law requires the Fire Department to investigate all fires, explosions, and threats to burn property within the city limits.
All City's Fire Inspectors are state certified under NFPA 1031. The City's Fire Investigators are state certified under NFPA 1033 and have full law enforcement powers under the Department of Criminal Justice, the same as any sheriff or police officer.
The City's Deputy Fire Marshal is the certified Virginia Fire Official, Virginia Fire Inspector, Virginia Fire Investigator and a Law Enforcement Officer. Other employees within the department hold certifications as fire investigators, and they assist the department if the primary investigator is unavailable.
The Inspections/Investigation Division conducts the inspection of businesses on a routine basis to promote public safety and the prevention of fires. Fire prevention codes deal with precautions against fire, open burning, maintenance of fire suppression systems, and even storage of hazardous materials.
All schools are required to have yearly fire inspections. The Fire Marshal’s Office generally performs two inspections annually, along with routine checks throughout the school year. The State also requires all day cares to be inspected and have fire drills preformed once a month. The Fire Marshals’ Office conduct these inspections and review the fire drill reports to make that every day care is in compliance and safe.
The Fire Marshal’s Office inspects all decorative materials for compliance. Decorations are required to be fire retardant, fire extinguishers must be placed throughout the area, and smoke detectors must be installed. Any material not meeting the standard must be treated with flame retardant or removed.
An investigator will generally be called to all structure fires to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Investigators will also be called to any fire or scene that is suspicious, or one in which the fire company cannot determine the cause. The purpose of the fire investigation is to accordantly report the incident to the state, determine how the incident can be prevented, and to arrest and prosecute in fires that are determined to be arson. The investigator works closely with the Police Department on many of these cases to exchange information and techniques. The Fire Marshal’s Office has made general reports to other area departments or to such groups as the Consumer Product Safety Commission because of such investigations.
Fire and Arson Task Force
The City is also a member of the Richmond Metro Fire and Arson Task Force. This is made up of investigators from the Cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell, Counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover and Prince George and State Police, State Fire Marshal's Office, and ATF. This team brings investigators together during major incidents to aid in the investigation and any possible prosecution. As part of the team, Colonial Heights has been called to assist Hanover, Petersburg, and Prince George, and has requested assistance of the team as well.
The Fire Marshal’s Office handles all environmental crimes related to illegal storage or dumping of hazardous materials, illegal storage of waste tires, and illegal storage of combustible waste. The Deputy Fire Marshal is currently certified as a Hazardous Materials Technician. He has also completed the Environmental Crimes Course offered by the Virginia Fire Marshal Academy.
Pre-Planning and Mapping
The Fire Inspections and Investigations Division handle the pre-planning and mapping for the Fire Department. This allows fire fighters to be able to locate fire hydrants, fire department connections, utility controls, and in some cases, have the floor plan available. It also assists them with locating both residential and commercial properties.