Officer of the Month February 2000

Assistant State Fire Marshal Edward S. Paulk

Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office


Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Assistant State Fire Marshal Edward S. Paulk of the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office as its Officer of the Month for February 2000.
The title Fire Marshal wouldn’t normally bring to mind the image of a police officer. However, in many states across this nation fire marshals are sworn law enforcement officers who quietly serve their communities, many times solving the most heinous crimes. In Alabama, fire marshals are sworn officers serving with the Alabama Department of Insurance tasked with investigating any fire or explosion determined to be criminal in nature.
Officer Edward S. Paulk began his distinguished career in 1979 as an honor graduate from the Montgomery (AL) police academy. For the next five years he served the citizens of Montgomery rising to the rank of sergeant.
In February 1984 Sergeant Paulk joined the Alabama Department of Insurance as a fire marshal. Over the past sixteen years he has worked on some unique and high profile cases, most recently, the 1998 bombing of the New Woman All Women Abortion Clinic. Subsequently, he coordinated the efforts that resulted in the identification of Eric Robert Rudolph, who is also wanted for questioning in the bombing which took place at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
In 1992, then Deputy Fire Marshals Paulk and Deputy Fire Marshal Gerald Maddox were returning from an arson investigation when they stopped to help two men whose pickup truck was stuck in the mud on the shoulder of I-65 in Alabama. The behavior of these individuals made the fire marshals suspicious. Their suspicions were immediately confirmed when the men drew weapons and fired upon the marshals and two local police officers, who returned fire. One suspect suffered multiple gunshot wounds while the other escaped, only to be captured a short time later. Subsequent investigation revealed the two men were escaped bank robbers from South Carolina who had taken law enforcement officers hostage at the time of their escape.
On April 21, 1996, Deputy Fire Marshal Paulk responded to the scene of a motel fire where the body of an elderly motel resident was recovered from the room where the fire had begun. Autopsy and laboratory results confirmed the man had been strangled to death prior to the fire. Further investigation revealed that the victim should have been in possession of a large sum of money when he died. Deputy Fire Marshal Paulk conducted an intensive investigation that resulted in the arrest of the killer. Recognized for outstanding work in the field of arson investigation and his tenacious attention to detail, Ed Paulk was promoted to Assistant State Fire Marshal on July 17, 1999.
In addition to his daily workload, Assistant Fire Marshal Paulk maintains a heavy teaching schedule and routinely finds time to assist local, state and federal agencies with cold cases. He is the recipient of multiple letters of commendation and appreciation from various law enforcement groups.
In describing his dedicated colleague, State Fire Marshal John S. Robison says, “Assistant State Fire Marshal Edward S. Paulk is one of the most dedicated conscientious law enforcement officers I have known during my 35 years in fire investigation/law enforcement work. He is extremely optimistic regarding the outcome of criminal investigations and is committed to pursuing every detail necessary for development of facts and evidence related to those investigations. He leads by example and is open to constructive suggestions.”
In addition to his demanding career, Ed Paulk take an active role in the lives and activities of his four children and spends a great deal of time promoting fire safety programs in their schools. He’s that proud dad standing on the baseline on the little league field and at half-court at the basketball games. He is an active member of his church and in the community where he lives.
Police Unity Tour
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.