Texas State Fire Marshal
Texas State Fire Marshal
The Texas State Fire Marshal is a division of the TDI that promotes fire safety through prevention, education and protection. The office conducts fire and arson investigations; performs fire safety inspections; regulates the storage, handling, and use of flammable liquids at retail service stations; and issues permits for the display and sale of fireworks. The office licenses and regulates the installation and maintenance of fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and automatic fire sprinkler systems. It also oversees inspection activities by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a private organization contracted to perform inspections conducted in cities and communities to determine fire suppression rates.
The State Fire Marshal position was created in 1910 as part of the State Insurance Board (Senate Bill 7, 31st Texas Legislature, 4th Called Session) to conduct fire and arson investigations and provide technical support to municipal and rural fire departments. The State Fire Marshal investigated fires upon request of local officials or fire insurance companies and determined the cause, submitting a written report to the State Insurance Board. He was also to furnish in writing to the county or district attorney all information and evidence obtained during the investigation including a copy of all pertinent testimony obtained in the case. The State Fire Marshal had the authority to administer oaths, take testimony, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, and to enter the building where the fire occurred or adjacent structures as needed during the investigation. He also conducted inspections of local fire department facilities as part of a process to establish key rates—rates that were part of a formula used to determine fire insurance rates for individual properties in cities and towns. The Commissioner of Insurance served as the State Fire Marshal from 1957 until 1975, when a separate State Fire Marshal Office was established in the State Board of Insurance, with the fire marshal appointed by the chair of the Insurance Board.
In 1991, the 72nd Legislature created the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) by combining two agencies, the Texas Commission on Fire Protection Personnel Standards and Education and the Texas Fire Department Emergency Board (Senate Bill 383, Regular Session). It also transferred certain duties from the Texas State Board of Insurance, including oversight of the State Fire Marshal and the key rate municipal inspections. In September 1997 the 75th Legislature returned the State Fire Marshal’s Office to the Texas Department of Insurance (Senate Bill 371, Regular Session).
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; laws and statutes of Texas; web page of the State Fire Marshal http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/fmabout.html, accessed April 25, 2016; and documents found within the State Fire Marshal’s records.)