October 20, 2014

Fire departments to use arson tracking system

The State Fire Marshall’s office will begin using the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) on July 1. All local fire departments with certified fire investigators will need to transition to the system, which aids fire departments and fire marshals in tracking arson incidents, managing investigation data and apprehending arsonists.
“Currently fire investigators are only able to search through data that’s currently in our database, which isn’t a complete picture because not all agencies have complied with reporting details on fires in Kansas,” State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen said.  “Switching to BATS will make it easier for local fire departments to report fires and arsons which, as a result, will provide us with much better and more comprehensive data for reducing fires and prosecuting arsonists.”
Developed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), BATS is a web-based system which enables public safety agencies to share information locally and nationally. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has been entering data into the BATS system for several years now as a secondary system.  Starting in July 2013 all of the state’s report information will be entered into this national database.
A key advantage of switching to BATS is that it is incredibly easy to use by local fire departments and will give investigators the ability to search a nationwide database of fire-related incidents – either by type of fire or by suspect. With this data in hand, investigators will be better equipped to identify trends and potentially identify cases involving serial arsonists.
BATS operates on many levels to support both local investigative needs and national collaboration and trend spotting. For example, investigators will be able to use BATS to find similarities in motives, device components, suspects and crime methodologies for possible investigative leads. Images of arson scenes, improvised explosive devices and crime scenes can also be shared through the BATS secure Web connection.
Further, investigators will be able to capture details of bomb and arson cases, casualties, dollar losses, fire descriptors, collateral crimes and device components. BATS also allows investigators to use the program as a case management system, enabling them to build their investigations in BATS while maintaining operational security.
There are currently over 7,000 authorized BATS users from more than 1,500 local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies across the United States. The system is free to use by local fire departments and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.  All local certified investigators will need to obtain an account with ATF by July 1, 2013 and begin entering their required case information according.  If the local fire investigators do not have an account, they can go to LINK.

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