The Fire Marshal Division is the oldest of the five divisions within the Department of Public Safety. It was established in 1911. Through promotion and enforcement of fire safety regulations, training, building code provisions, and arson investigations this division helps reduce the loss of life and property by fire.

Although headquarted in Des Moines, the Fire Marshal Division has field offices located throughout the state. The division is comprised of four (4) bureaus: Fire Prevention Inspection, Arson Investigation, Building Code, and Fire Service Training. Presently the division has 30 sworn officers and 17 civilian employees.

George Howe was sworn in as the State Fire Marshal in August of 2000. He was the 11th individual to hold that position since it was created in 1911. In 2002, Howe resigned his position. The State Fire Marshal position is currently vacant.








Fire Inspection Bureau
Fire safety code inspections are conducted in a variety of facilities ensuring compliance with both federal and state laws and rules. A total of 3722 inspections were conducted in 2001. Those facilities inspected by our fire inspectors include:

• Nursing Homes
• Child Care Facilities
• Congregate Meal Sites
• Schools, Colleges, and State Institutions
• Hotels
• Intermediate Care Facilities
• Any other building where the public would congregate

In the past nine years, elementary students in grades three through six have submitted fire prevention posters. Together with funds provided by Employer's Mutual Insurance Company, the Fire Marshal Division incorporates the posters that seem to best deliver a fire prevention message into a calendar. The calendars are then distributed throughout to elementary schools, day care centers, nursing homes, as well as senior citizen centers state-wide. An essential element in fire prevention is that of fire safety education.


Fire Deaths

The new century started off with a total of 62 fire deaths in 2000, then decreased to 38 in 2001. In the year 2002, there have been 15 deaths recorded. Of those 15 deaths in 2002, only three (3) had smoke detectors and those had no batteries or were not in use.



Arson & Explosive Bureau

Arson Investigation Bureau Special Agents are responsible for determining the cause of fires statewide. These agents investigate suspected arson fires along with bombings and other explosive related incidents. Several agents in the division are also members of the Clandestine Lab Emergency Response Team and are volunteer members of their local fire departments.

Six hundred and eight-four investigations were conducted during FY 02. This included 459 fires which were investigated. Of those fires, 146 were determined to be the result of arson. One hundred and ninety-eight were accidental and the cause of 115 could not be determined. The remaining investigations represented bombing incidents, bomb threats, explosive disposals, and Clandestine Labs. Investigations by the Fire Marshal Division resulted in 53 arrests and 103 charges filed.

An Arson Hotline is maintained 24 hours a day for citizens to provide information helpful in resolving suspected arson cases. In addition to providing training to local fire and law enforcement officials on fire investigations and issues relating to arson, classes are offered throughout the year to allow local officials opportunity to see first hand various types of explosives. This gives them guidance for safe and proper response to such incidents.



Building Code Bureau

The responsibility of the Building Code Bureau is to ensure the safety and accessibility of buildings. They accomplish this by review and approval of factory-built structures and mobile homes. In addition to reading plans, the bureau oversees enforcement of handicapped accessibility and energy requirements of the State Building Code.









Fire Service Training Bureau

The Fire Service Training Bureau, orginally known as the Fire Service Institute, Iowa State University, was made part of the State Fire Marshal Division in July of 2000. The Training Bureau is located in Ames. Its mission is to provide quality training and education for Iowa's fire and emergency services.


Services are provided in Field Programs, Certification Programs, Business and Industrial Programs, Conference, and Research and Development.

The Fire Service Training Bureau is committed to meeting the needs of Iowa's Fire Service by emphasizing accredited training, partnerships with community colleges, as well as in-house training opportunities.









Created 10/1/02 bal