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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

Contact: Public Information Officer David Krueger
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 23, 2023

ATF National Response Team Joins School Fire Investigation

WASHINGTON – The Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requested ATF’s National Response Team join the investigation into a school fire that occurred Tuesday afternoon at 17 East Chestnut Hill Ave. in Philadelphia.

NRT members arrived in Philadelphia today to assist the Philadelphia Fire Department and other local partners in this ongoing investigation. The NRT consists of Special Agents, Certified Fire Investigators, Fire Protection Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Forensic Chemists, Certified Explosives Specialists, an Intelligence Research Specialist, a Medic and an Accelerant Detection Canine with handler.

"The NRT is here to provide specialized resources to help determine the origin and cause of this fire,” said Walter Shaw, ATF NRT supervisor. “The team works in partnership with local and state fire and law enforcement agencies to assist this community in any way we can.”

The NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response capability, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly qualified ATF personnel specializing in fire origin and cause determination.

This is the ninth NRT activation this fiscal year and the 900th since the program began in 1978. The team brings definitive expertise and an array of state-of-the-art equipment to the investigation of major fire and explosives incidents. Three regional components, organized geographically to cover the United States, comprise the NRT. The team can rapidly respond to assist local and state law enforcement or fire service personnel in onsite investigations.

Past NRT activations include such incidents as: more than 200 fire scenes resulting from civil unrest throughout the Midwest in 2020; a series of bombings in Austin, Texas, in 2018; and national-level incidents such as the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon; the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta; the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information on ATF can be found at

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