The Westchester County Cause and Origin Team (C&O) was formulated by the Arson Task Force back in 1981. This central resource is available to local fire departments and police departments upon request, with trained experts to assist in determining the origin and cause of fire and explosions that occur in their jurisdiction.

The Team is comprised of up to 32 New York State certified fire investigators, who are volunteer firefighters or police officers.  There are five geographically organized response Zones in the County. Zone 1 comprises the cities of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, and Yonkers, each of whom has their own fire investigation unit.  Zones 2, 3, 4, and 5 each have six Fire Investigators and two Adjunct Investigators and are supervised by two Deputy Fire Coordinators.  Eugene Malone III (Retired Deputy Chief Fairview FD) and James Cuffe (Retired Sergeant North Castle PD) are assigned geographically throughout the county.

The primary objectives of the Cause and Origin Team are:

  • Establish and maintain a quality service to assist fire chiefs in the determination of the origin and cause of suspicious fires throughout the county, consistent with the requirements of GML 204(d).
  • Establish and maintain standards for training and experience of police and fire professionals engaged as Cause and Origin Team members.
  • Establish and maintain standardized call-out procedures and dispatches for the Cause and Origin Team
  • Establish and maintain standardized reporting procedures for the Cause and Origin Team.

The Cause and Origin Team works together with multiple agencies including local police departments, local fire departments, the Office of the District Attorney, the Department of Laboratories and Research, the Office of the Medical Examiner, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, to name a few.  Bringing together police and fire professionals trained in fire investigation results in a more team investigation.  This enhances the success in determining the origin and cause of the fire, as well as the subsequent criminal investigations, were undertaken by local police departments.

Team Members

               Zone 1 (Car 1401)                      Deputy Fire Coordinator Malone
1511 - Mount Vernon FD 1512 - White Plains FD
1513 - Yonkers FD 1514 - New Rochelle FD
              Zone 2 (Car 1402) Deputy Fire Coordinator Malone
1521 -  Ronald Benson 1522 - Alexander Whalen
1523 - Gregg Hibbard 1524 - Vacant
1525 - Steven Surace 1526 - Vacant
1527 - Matthew Fitzgerald (Adjunct) 1528 - Vacant (Adjunct)
               Zone 3 (Car 1403) Deputy Fire Coordinator Malone
1531 - Edward Ladin 1532 - Angel Lopez
1533 - Eugene Malone III (County Car 25) 1534 - Anthony Tarricone
1535 - Daniel Lester 1536 - Matthew Gullo
1537 - Stephen Shyrock (Adjunct) 1538 - Vacant (Adjunct)
              Zone 4 (Car 1404) Deputy Fire Coordinator Cuffe
1441 -Vacant 1442 - James Tipa, Jr. 
1443 - Peter Ciacci 1444-  Samantha Stretz-Fejes
1445 - Peter Kelly 1446 - Jeffrey Wilson
1447 - Vacant (Adjunct) 1448 - Vacant (Adjunct)
               Zone 5 (Car 1405) Deputy Fire Coordinator Cuffe
1451 - Vacant 1452 - James Cuffe (County Car 24)
1453 - John Aniello 1454 - Steven Wright
1455 - Daniel Taylor 1456 - Vacant
1457 - Phil Goulet (Adjunct) 1458 - Salvatore Astarita (Adjunct)
1459 - Matthew Whalen (Adjunct)  

Arson Task Force Executive Board Members

Richard G. Wishnie, Commissioner Emergency Services
Susan B. Spear, Deputy Commissioner Emergency Services
Neil Caputo, Director of Fire Services Emergency Services
Priya Ravishankar, Asst. District Attorney District Attorney's Office
Lt. Jeffrey Slotoroff Dept. of Public Safety
James Luciano, Chief WC Police Association
James Cuffe, Deputy Fire Coordinator Zones 4 &5
Eugene Malone, Deputy Fire Coordinator Zones 1, 2 & 3
Nelson Canter, Attorney At Large
Robert Hickey, Chairman Westchester County Association of Fire Districts
Lydia deCastro Labs & Research
John Marchioni, Detective At Large
Neal Cromwell, Detective At Large
Chris DeSantis, Deputy Chief Yonkers FD (South)
Vacant WC Association of Fire Chiefs