Monitor the fire and scene conditions. First responders to a fire scene must observe conditions and activities and provide investigators with an accurate and complete description. [Note 4] Claiming damages by establishing fault; Determination that the cause of the fire was the failure of a product or system. State Fire Marshal investigators are most often called upon to team up with rural, suburban or urban fire and law enforcement investigators in a “team” investigation of major fires, arson and fires or explosions resulting in injury or death. If a fire or explosion falls under a federal jurisdiction, specially trained officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will join the investigation team. It is our policy to consult with a prosecutor if the investigation reveals a possible crime. [Note 3] Damage or loss of evidence that would jeopardize a court case. Preserve the scene of the fire. First responders need to understand how rescue, medical, firefighting, overhaul and recovery efforts can interfere with evidence and take steps to preserve it. They should secure the fire site and identify potential evidence, take preparatory measures to preserve it and inform the competent authorities of its existence. Kerber, S. (2011) Analysis of the evolution of residential fire dynamics and their effects on firefighters` operating times. Fire Technology, 48, 865-891.
Fire investigators should be careful not to manipulate the timeline to fit a particular theory. If there are gaps in the logic, it`s their job to keep looking for missing information. You must be methodical and use the facts gathered to come to a conclusion about the origin and cause of the fire. Note: If the crime scene involves arson or other crimes, the investigator must meet the legal requirements for access to the crime scene, search and seizure of evidence. Whether at home or in nature, fires can occur for a variety of reasons, including: Prevent contamination of evidence. The investigator should control access to the fire site after the fire has been fought and ensure that evidence is collected, stored and transported in a manner that is not contaminated. Judicial, logistical or legal conditions may prevent the application of certain procedures contained herein. Release the stage. The investigator should vacate the scene after reasonable efforts have been made to identify, collect and remove all evidence for investigative purposes and all physical characteristics of the scene have been documented. In addition, prior to the broadcast of the scene, related legal, health and safety issues must be communicated to the party conducting the investigation and, if necessary, reported to public safety authorities. Note: This section of the manual is intended for those responsible for investigating a fire.
When it is determined that it is arson or other crime, the investigator must comply with the legal requirements relating to access to the crime scene, search and seizure of evidence. The next step is to sift through what you`ve learned, including witness statements, fire department records, fire forensics and documentation. Next, the fire investigator tries to figure out what happened (and when) by creating a timeline. This manual is intended as a best practice guide for collecting and securing evidence at arson or arson sites.  Assess the safety of the scene at the time of the fire. The inspector should determine if the building or vehicle was intact and safe and if intrusion detection or fire detection and suppression systems were in operation at the time of the fire. This is an archive page that is no longer updated. It may contain outdated information and the links may no longer work as originally intended. Because time is limited to gather testimony and details when they arrive at the scene of an emergency, fire investigators must go on trial. This may include:[Note 2] As stated in NFPA 921, the scientific method involves defining the problem, collecting data, analyzing the data, developing hypotheses (for example, what might have caused the fire), testing the hypothesis, and considering other hypotheses.
Note: In the event of an accidental fire, evidence should not be disturbed unnecessarily, but the owner or insurer should be notified to avoid looting problems.