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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Contact: Public Affairs Division

February 2013

Certified Fire Investigators (CFI)


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) is a highly trained special agent who provides technical support, analysis and assistance to ATF and its state and local partners in fire origin and cause determination and arson investigation. The ATF CFI is a field division’s primary resource in fire- and arson-related investigations.


ATF’s basic investigative jurisdiction in arson is delineated in 18 United States Code, Chapter 40, Section 844 (Title XI of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, as amended by the Anti-Arson Act of 1982) and Section 846 and 26 United States Code, Chapter 53 (Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended).


The ATF CFI investigates violent crimes of arson and arson-for-profit, conducts fire scene examinations, makes origin and cause determinations, provides expert testimony, assists other special agents and prosecutors with investigations and conducts training for ATF agents and other federal, state and local fire investigators. The CFI program's leadership by example, teaching, research and training enhances the entire fire investigative community.

The CFI completes a two-year training program that includes fire origin and cause determination, fire dynamics, fire modeling, building construction, electricity and fire causation, health and safety and computer-aided schematic drawing. The program relies on rigorous training, education and experience to provide agents with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to obtain credentials to testify as expert witnesses in the field of fire origin and cause.

ATF’s 73 CFI’s provide support to the entire United States, its territories and other countries. In 2012, ATF initiated 1,571 fire investigations.

In addition to its CFI’s, the expertise of ATF’s U.S. Bomb Data Center, explosives enforcement officers, National Response Team, three forensic science laboratories and Fire Research Laboratory contribute to fire and arson investigations.

For more information about CFIs, go to