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Harford County to test out new Fire Marshal's investigation unit

Television Industry

Harford County is the first to try out a new fire investigation unit the likes of which the Office of the State Fire Marshal hopes to put in all of its six regional offices.

The office announced last week a $35,000 state grant was used to outfit a Chevrolet Express 2500 van with tools and equipment for doing fire investigations, according to a Thursday press release.

Equipment for the van, which includes a Wells Cargo trailer, features hand and power tools, computers, networking equipment, a closed-circuit television system and many types of evidence collection kits.

The cargo trailer will have larger items like a wheelbarrow, chainsaw, portable sink and "quick shelter" tents.

Harford County got the first unit because the officer who worked to get the grant, Dep. Joseph Walters, is from the northeast region, spokesman Dep. Bruce Brouch said.

"It just seemed prudent that it would begin there as our pilot vehicle," Bouch said Tuesday.

He said the Fire Marshal's Office will see how the unit works out in Harford.

Acting State Fire Marshal Joseph C. Flanagan said in the press release: "Advancements in science and technology in the field of fire investigations dictate the need for newer and better equipment to more accurately process evidence collection during an active investigation. This fire investigation support unit is the first of its kind in our agency and will provide investigators the ability to more accurately process large scale incidents by quickly providing additional resources on a fire scene."

The grant for the unit came from the state's Homeland Security Grant program. The Fire Marshal's Office started converting an existing panel van into the support unit in December 2012.

The Harford County Sheriff's Office and Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company helped in outfitting the unit.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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