Thursday at the 125th annual meeting of the Kansas Fire Fighters Association, State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen announced his office will begin using the federal Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) effective July 1, 2013, and all local fire departments with Certified Fire Investigators will transition to this system.
“BATS is an invaluable tool to aid fire departments and fire marshals in their efforts to track arson incidents, manage investigation data, and apprehend arsonists,” says Jorgensen.
After researching various report programs for bomb and arson incidents, to include the current state reporting system and input from other investigators, the Office of the State Fire Marshal made the decision to switch to BATS.
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.
“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,” says Jorgensen. “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.”
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 more than 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, http://www.atf.gov/, is free to use by local fire departments and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.