A Message from the Chief Fire Marshal of FDNY
Robert G. Byrnes
The New York City Fire Department has a proud and storied history of dedicated service to those who reside, work and visit our great City. Dating back to its inception in 1865, firefighters of the FDNY have a deep and continuous commitment to helping anyone in time of need––fighting fires, assisting persons trapped or injured in an accident or providing immediate help to those experiencing critical health emergencies.
Similarly, the Bureau of Fire Investigation within the FDNY can trace its proud history to its beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century. As you can read in our web-posted History of the BFI, FDNY Fire Marshals can date their beginnings to 1854 when a news reporter for the New York Herald first noticed a trend of suspicious fires in Manhattan and met with a Chief Engineer of the then all voluntary Metropolitan Fire District. His concerns resulted in the formal establishment of the position and role of Fire Marshal in New York City and the newly formed Fire Department of New York (FDNY).
Much has transpired in the 150 years since our Bureau’s inception. Without exception, Fire Marshals have worked continuously to fulfill their mission to investigate the cause and origin of all complex, fatal and suspicious fires in New York City. We have worked tirelessly throughout each of the five boroughs and each community of our City with the hope that our efforts will result in a safer City for all citizens. While we feel we have accomplished this goal, we have renewed our commitment to further improve our services to the public with new and innovative technology.
The FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation, however, is not only about the criminal investigations of fires in New York. Just as important, our Bureau investigates every fire in New York City where there has been either a catastrophic injury or fatality to determine the circumstances that led up to the fire. This information is reported back to the Fire Commissioner and to the Fire Department’s Fire Safety Education Unit. Trained educators from that Unit respond back to the community and provide information and educate our citizens on ways to prevent fires. This information can help prevent future tragedies and save lives.
Fire Marshals of the FDNY were all fully trained firefighters who, upon promotion to Fire Marshal, receive 13 weeks of training in highly technical areas of fire investigation, criminal justice and have full police powers. The commitment of the New York City Fire Department and the Bureau of Fire Investigations to you, the public, is steadfast. As you will note throughout our website, we proudly serve alongside all other 16,000 members of the FDNY. We are proud to be part of a workforce that is called New York’s Bravest. If for any reason you feel you need our help, please call us at our hotline number–(718) 722-3600. An FDNY Fire Marshal is there to take your call.