| Jo-Ann Lorber
Assistant Fire Marshal
|Mission: To prevent or limit the occurrence of fire incidences, to make sure buildings are safe to occupy, to ensure proper egress is always available, to make certain fire protection systems are in place and maintained, and effectively utilize the principles of engineering, education and enforcement to protect our citizens, our workplace, our homes and our environment from the ravages of fire.|
The Fire Prevention Bureau enforces all applicable life safety and fire protection requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Florida Fire Prevention Code, the Florida Building Code and the City of Fort Lauderdale Municipal Code of Ordinances. All Bureau fire inspectors are State of Florida Certified Fire Fighters and State of Florida and Broward County Certified Fire Inspectors.
The Bureau reviews all new commercial building plans prior to permits being issued. A fire inspector works with Building Department plan reviewers to ensure all building plans comply with national, state and local codes.
A fire inspector inspects new construction sites to ensure that the final product reflects the design criteria on approved building plans. The fire inspector tests all fire protection, smoke evacuation and fire alarm systems to ensure they are functional and meet fire code compliance. A certificate of occupancy (CO) or completion is not issued until all fire and building inspections have passed. Once a CO has been issued, fire inspectors continue to conduct annual inspections to ensure compliance is maintained.
- See our Fire Prevention Safety Tips page
Fire Investigation Unit
Another important function of the Fire Prevention Bureau is the investigation of fire origin and cause. The Bureau has established a Fire Investigation Unit (FIU) for that purpose. The FIU is staffed with five on-call fire investigators. The Unit responds to fire and/or hazardous incidents when called out by an on-scene Incident Commander (IC).
Fire investigators generally respond to incidents involving:
- Fires believed to be intentionally set
- Fires involving juveniles (includes gang activity)
- Fires that require additional alarm response
- Fires involving a fatality or injury to civilians and/or firefighters
- Fires involving high dollar loss
- Acts of terrorism (i.e. fire bombing, other related types of bombings, structural sabotage, etc.)
- Hazardous conditions that present an immediate threat to life safety (i.e. assembly overcrowding, blocked exits, building collapse, compromised fire protection and detection systems, etc.)
- Other related hazards and/or fires when requested by an on-scene incident commander
Members of the fire investigator unit are scheduled and assigned to callout status by way of a one-week rotation cycle. A secondary member is also assigned to “back up status” for those occasions when incidents overlap. Investigators are responsible for determining fire origin & cause. Each member has met the requirements set forth in NFPA 1033, Professional Qualifications for a Fire Investigator and is also a member of the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) and has obtained a certificate as a Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator (CFEI). All fire investigations conducted by City of Fort Lauderdale Fire investigators follow the guidelines set forth in NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations. The fire investigators are required to attend continuing education classes to stay abreast of the latest changes and advancements in the field of fire investigations. Investigators also hold a variety of other memberships in professional organizations such as the International Association of Arson Investigators, the National Association of Fire Investigators, and the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention (FACAP). In addition, our investigators resumes can be comprised of a number of sworn depositions that include testifying as a Court declared expert witness on fire origin and cause determination.
FIU members often work closely with arson detectives from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. An investigative team concept has been developed for those occasions when an origin-and-cause determination overlaps with a criminal investigation. FLPD detectives routinely train with FIU investigators and often attend common fire investigation seminars, further strengthening the relationship between the two departments.
In addition, the unit has close working relationships with the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office, the Bureau of Fire/Arson Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The unit will make requests from these agencies when specialized resources such as accelerant detection canines, heavy equipment, and/or additional investigators are required for major fires.
The Fire Investigation Unit also utilizes the American Red Cross, the City of Ft. Lauderdale Emergency Management Office and the City of Ft. Lauderdale Building Services during the post-fire environment. The Unit and these other agencies work together to help displaced families find lodging and to return affected properties back to a habitable condition.
Please note that Fort Lauderdale fire investigators do not conduct private fire investigations. Fire investigations are conducted according to Florida State Statutes and Fort Lauderdale Fire Department policy and procedures.