Fire Marshals are lawfully allowed to pack heat


POSTED: Monday, August 25, 2014 - 4:42pm

UPDATED: Monday, August 25, 2014 - 5:43pm

The news of Kilgore's Fire Marshal carrying a firearm might come as a surprise to some. But, we're told most fire marshals in the state of Texas are peace officers. It varies from state to state, but here in Texas, fire marshals are arson investigators. Since arson is a first degree felony, fire marshals have the power to make an arrest and carry a firearm.

"It was fortunate an officer was on scene to and was able to protect the fireman," said Smith County Asst. Fire Marshal Oren Hale.

It's not the first thing that pops in your mind when you think of a fire marshal.

"We investigate criminal acts, arson is a first degree felony the same as murder," said Hale.

Hale said when they're trained to investigate a crime scene, they undergo the same training as police officers.

"In the state of Texas, most fire marshals are peace officers because you investigate a fire and you keep right on the continuity of investigating without stopping and turning it over to someone else."

Both Hale and Longview Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary said Saturday's situation is rare. But, it can happen and they're prepared.

"It becomes apparent not only in the area but also the United States that people are trying to cause harm to first responders, so it's also another means of us protecting first responders, ourselves and the public," said Zackary.

"We are peace officers by nature. We investigate criminals and usually those people that do criminal acts don't respond to, "will you please," so you have more authority on your side and usually having a weapon on your side and usually just the sight of a weapon on the peace officers side is enough to get people to comply," said Hale.

But, that's not the case in every state across the country, fire marshals in some other states are trained in fire investigation and when they discover a criminal act, they turn it over to a police officer.

"They do a joint investigation, but the police officer has to be present for the criminal act," said Hale.

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