In the mid-1980s, arson was one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation. Addressing the need for specialists to investigate fires related to crimes and death, Sheriff Lacke approved the creation of a Fire Investigative Team. Four charter members, Michael Best, David Cochems, Willis Hartwig, and Kevin Hughes comprised the unit that responded to fire incidents that involved death, serious injury, or special circumstances. Team members received intensive training in the origin and cause of fires, as well as continuing education. Working closely with the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Dane County Sheriff's Office is able to deliver around-the-clock service in the area of Fire Investigation to the citizens of Dane County.
Over two decades later, the Fire Investigation Team has proved to be effective, increasing the amount of arson-related case clearances in Dane County. The commitment to continuing education and cooperation between law enforcement and fire officials is now a standard at the Sheriff's Office.