The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Investigating Fires/Demolishing Buildings

Reference Number: MTAS-241
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: November 08, 2016
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Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) § 68-102-301 requires the fire chief to investigate the cause, origin, and circumstance of all fires resulting in property damage and determine cause if possible. Further, the fire chief must report all fires to TFIRS within 10 days of the date of a fire. The fire chief does not have to have the fire's cause determined by this time, as some fires will still be under investigation, but the fire chief must report the facts of fire's occurrence.

A fire chief, fire marshal, or mayor of a city without a fire department shall be designated an assistant to the commissioner of insurance to investigate fires, and a report of each investigation is required on prescribed forms. Such an assistant may order the demolition and removal of irreparable structures at the expense of those responsible for them. In cities with no fire marshal, a fire marshal from another local government may be an assistant to the state commissioner on behalf of that city.

Under T.C.A.§ 68-102-117, any officer authorized to conduct fire inspections may order any building removed or repaired that the officer finds is a fire hazard or otherwise inherently dangerous to the public. This finding may be made if:

  • repairs are lacking;
  • fire escapes, alarms, or fire extinguishing equipment are insufficient; or
  • any other dangerous or defective condition renders the property prone to fire. T.C.A.§§ 68-102-101, et seq.