Fire Investigation Unit

Horry County Fire Rescue has a dedicated Fire Investigation Unit that works closely with the Operations Division to determine the origin and cause of structural fires in our area. The Fire Investigators also respond to fires in woodland areas, passenger vehicles, heavy machinery, and recreational vehicles such as boats, campers, and RV’s. These efforts are led by Fire Investigators Captain Matthew Rice and Firefighter David Dorio, with additional assistance from our K9 Accelerant Dog, Crosby. In addition to primary fire investigations, this team also completes investigations on situations which result in citizen burn injuries not tied to an actual fire. The immediate availability of our K9 Accelerant Dog Crosby to assist during fire investigations is a crucial resource to the success of the departments Fire Investigation Unit.

K9 Accelerant Dog Crosby
Fire Investigator/Captain Matthew Rice and K9 Accelerant Dog Crosby were partnered in 2018 in Alfred, Maine through the assistance of the State Farm® Arson Dog Program. Accelerant detection canines, “aka arson dogs”, are trained to sniff out small traces of accelerants potentially used to start a fire. Crosby was trained and reinforced using a food-reward method. Crosby and Captain Rice were trained as a team with the Maine State Police and both were certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. After completing their initial certification, arson dogs and their handlers must be recertified every year. Crosby and Captain Rice are together 24/7, making them both work partners and family. The valuable training for this team was made possible through a scholarship from the State Farm® Arson Dog Program. We owe a debt of gratitude to both State Farm® and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for their support with the Arson Dog Program.

Eliminating Arson Fires
Arson is the deliberate destruction of property using fire as a weapon in a malicious manner. These malicious fires have impacts across our entire community, to include damage to property, monetary losses to business and home owners, and most critical, injuries and deaths to both community and department members. Arson fires are a crime and are one of the largest single causes of major fires across the entire Nation. Several motives for these malicious fires include vandalism, revenge, to make profit, to dispose of unwanted property, and to conceal another crime.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems – “Drone Program”
The Fire Investigation Unit is responsible for deployment of the Drone Assets assigned to Horry County Fire Rescue. The two Fire Investigators have completed extensive training and testing, sanctioned through the Federal Aviation Administration, to become Drone Operators. This valuable equipment allows the Fire Investigators to provide a wide-array of critical functions to assist Horry County Fire Rescue, other County Departments, and our Regional Public Safety Departments. Several examples of these functions include aerial recognizance of fires and other emergency incidents, monitoring hazardous materials leaks, search and rescue operations, damage assessments after weather events, and monitoring crowds at large-scale events.