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New deputy fire marshal named

July 19, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Ted Meminger learned earlier this month that the torch passed to him by Charles Cronauer was his to keep.

For the past 15 years, Meminger has been investigating fires as a deputy fire marshal for the Western Maryland Regional Office of the State Fire Marshal.

When Cronauer, who was Western Region deputy chief, retired in January, Meminger filled the slot temporarily.

Officials at the State Fire Marshal's Office interviewed Meminger and 12 other candidates, and Meminger was appointed to the position.

As supervisor, Meminger, 41, of Frederick, Md., oversees investigations and manages the Hagerstown office.

"I think he will do a fine job. He's been well-trained and is well-equipped for the position," said Cronauer.

Meminger said he was pleased to have been named supervisor.

"I find the diversity of the job very appealing," he said.

He will miss the field work but enjoy having more time to spend with his family, he said.

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The son of a fire chief, Meminger followed in his father's footsteps and became a volunteer firefighter.

He continued to fight fires after joining the Air Force working for their fire department until he was discharged in 1979 as a sergeant.

Fascinated by the dynamics of fire causes and prevention and not satisfied with just fighting fires, he became a fire marshal because of the challenge it offers, he said.

"It lets me be a part of the whole picture by determining how the fire started, who is responsible and testifying in court if necessary," he said.

Fire investigators collect information that alone may not seem conclusive but when compiled can provide answers to what caused fires, he said.

"We approach every fire as accidental and work from there," he said.

By examining what and how much area was burned and who was or wasn't home during a fire can reveal much, he said.

If a fire's origin appears to be suspicious, Meminger interviews residents or neighbors in an attempt to confirm or refute his doubts, he said.

Nothing can be taken for granted when conducting an investigation.

"No two fires are the same," he said.

When fire claims a life, Meminger has been called to console the survivors.

He also informs them about fire investigation procedures.

"I am driven to find out what happened so that the death was not in vain," he said.

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