This commentary is dedicated to all previous members of the Bureau of Fire Investigation and specifically, the recently retired captain. At all firehouses, every member has an impact on the entire group. We have all seen and lived this and know of first hand experiences, where a single member has had such an overwhelming impact, that the entire company rises to a higher standard. An especially good example of this has been taking place in the San Francisco Fire Department, Bureau of Fire Investigation (BFI). Often known as the Arson Squad, it includes one BFI Captain, one Lieutenant, eleven Fire Investigators, two Police Department Detectives, one Assistant District Attorney, and one Civilian employee.

We have all witnessed the dynamics resulting from the unlimited combination of personalities in a firehouse, and those dynamics when applied to fire scene challenges. You know the times when it works, and when it works well the entire company is clearly stronger than the sum of its’ individual members. The resulting accomplishments can be impressive. We all want to recall, if not repeat those times. Some Fire Officers have a very strong talent for bringing this about. The Arson Squad has been led for over 10 years with these results.

Add to the firehouse dynamics, veteran employees from three different City Departments (SFFD, SFPD, DA), told to work together. Then extend the professional relationship to other City Departments, including the Medical Examiner, the City Attorney, Child Crisis Services, School Department, along with outside State and Federal agencies.

One of the most effective investigative units in San Francisco was led by Fire Department Captain Elmer Carr. Congratulations on your retirement. Elmer was a member of the Fire Department from 1974-2006.


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