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White House

President Biden Signs Legislation To Investigate Major Fires

The Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act authorizes the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to send incident investigators to conduct on-site investigations of large-scale or remarkable fires.

Posted: Dec. 27, 2022

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On Dec. 20, 2022, President Biden signed the Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act to amend the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974. The act authorizes the USFA to send incident investigators such as safety specialists, fire protection engineers, codes and standards experts, researchers, and fire training specialists to conduct on-site investigations of large-scale or remarkable fires (major fires).

USFA will coordinate major fire investigations with appropriate federal, state and local authorities. Investigations may include the examination of the determined cause and origin of the fire and an assessment of broader systematic matters such as fire dynamics, smoke movement and structural component failures.

This is an opportunity for USFA to engage in telling the story about fire safety components that could have been preventive or changed the negative outcomes from major fires like the use of sprinklers, self-closing doors and general adherence to building codes.

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, U.S. Fire Administrator, USFA

Following an investigation, the USFA will issue a public report on the findings or collaborate with another investigating federal agency on that agency's report. The report may include recommendations on:

  • Other buildings that have similar fire risks.
  • Improving fire department tactical response to similar fires.
  • Improving the public's fire safety practices.
  • Assessing the costs and benefits to the community of adding fire safety features.
  • How to mitigate the causes of the fire.

The USFA will issue a draft regulation for public comment to implement the requirements of the act. It will include a definition for the term “major fire.”