Fire investigation

Fire investigation

The National Association of Fire Investigators is a non profit association of Fire Investigation professionals dedicated to the education of fire investigators worldwide. NAFI has lead the charge to bring fire investigation science into the 21st century. Our wide variety of NFPA based training programs are unmatched in the industry.

The decision This program is suitable both for newer investigators and for more advanced students. The decision was difficult; however, we feel it is in the best interest of all those involved If you are a professional involved in fire and explosion investigation, prevention, litigation or research, then NAFI is the association for you.

Practice fire investigation across borders? Scott Davis, PhD. Scott Davis,Ph. Distinguish yourself. Become a NAFI member today.

fire investigation

Here Today Here Tomorrow, Since M Membership If you are a professional involved in fire and explosion investigation, prevention, litigation or research, then NAFI is the association for you. Member Login. Login Forgot Password?Fires are devastating. In addition to the very real danger they pose, they also destroy homes and belongings, and even those who escape safely lose their sense of place.

A fire investigation report reviews the fire, describing its origin and cause if that can be determined. Having this information allows government agencies to improve safety standards for buildings and can give families a sense of closure.

Report writing on a house on fire or another type of structure is critical to ensuring your thoughts and conclusions are available for review. In addition to reviewing training materials such as a fire report-writing PowerPoint, you can gain valuable insights on how your department structures reports by asking for a fire incident report sample doc.

In general, though, most fire investigation reports have a similar structure, showing your thorough investigation into the cause and origin of the fire and how you came to your conclusions.

Fire investigation reports can be used for several purposes, including insurance investigations and criminal inquiries. Although it may be tempting to write your report as you go, and although you should take thorough notes, it is generally best to wait until you have completed your investigation to write the report.

This is because if you write your report before you have finished your investigation, it could reflect bias. The two main forms of bias that a fire investigation report could inadvertently include are:.

Keep good notes while you investigate, either on paper or by recording your thoughts. Once your investigation has concluded, write your report in clear language that could be understood by the general public.

The introduction is the section that tends to vary the most from report to report, so confirm with your department as to what specific information should be included.

At a minimum, the introduction should include:. You may also include a summary or abstract. This is a brief summary of what will be included in the full report. If your report has a summary or abstract, include the date and time of the incident and a timeline of what occurred along with your findings. The next section is a description of the structure or vehicle. For buildings, this should include the age of the building, the type of building, the style of construction, a description of the foundation and roof and the number of floors.

Vehicles should have similarly detailed information, including the vehicle identification number, the make, the model, the color and the license plate information. Many fire investigation reports include detailed background information, such as the weather conditions at the time of the fire, including temperature, wind speed and wind direction.

Reports also describe the response of the firefighters, including when they arrived, what equipment they brought to the scene and how the department operates. If there were casualties, they should be described in a straightforward, accurate manner including the cause of death as determined by the coroner. Personal information can be redacted before your report is released to the general public. Interviewing witnesses is critical to conducting a thorough investigation. In this section, summarize each interview, including the name of the person, his role in the report neighbor, firefighter, etc.

You may want to use a combination of direct quotes and summaries. Next, walk your reader through the damage to the structure or vehicle. Use clear descriptors, such as compass directions, to orient your reader to the exterior walls. Note the areas where the damage is the most extensive as well as other pertinent information such as the location of utility meters and fuel sources.

Interior observations should also be detailed, and each room should be described. Note the areas with the most damage as well as burn patterns or smoke patterns. You should describe the room of origin with the most detail. Many reports include labeled pictures for clarity, which can also help your readers visualize the contents of your report.

Evidence is sometimes reviewed in its own section, including descriptions of the items in evidence and pictures if possible.Unfortunately, it is not unusual for investigation companies to employ fire investigators who have little experience, expertise, or education in the determination of fire origin and cause. These deficiencies usually show up years later, during litigation, where the stakes are high and the outcome is often costly.

As we are all dealing with the challenges of the Coronavirus crisis day by day, NEFCO will continue to accept and carry out all investigations received, to remain compliant with social distancing guidelines and State government directives. NEFCO has implemented an action plan with protocols designed to reduce health risks to our employees, clients, insureds and vendor partners.

As always we will continue to keep the lines of communication open as we move forward together in the days and weeks ahead. Subrogation Specialists. Fire Investigations. Evidence Laboratories. Heavy Equipment Investigations. All Experts are.

On Scene - Arson Investigations

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Quickest Response. Court Qualified. NEFCO specializes in fire investigations for the insurance industry and pledges comprehensive, timely, and cost-effective service.Fire investigation involves the examination of all fire-related incidents once firefighters have extinguished the fire.

The practice is similar to the examination of crime scenes in that the scene must be preserved and evidence collected and analysed, but with numerous additional difficulties and dangers. The investigation will include closely surveying the damaged scene to establish the origin of the fire and eventually establishing the cause.

However in order to effectively examine and evaluate a fire scene, it is imperative that the investigator has a detailed knowledge of the chemistry and behaviour of fire and its effects.

In order for a fire to occur, three vital components must be present: a fuel source, an oxidant O 2 and a sufficient amount of energy in the form of heat. Together these make up the fire triangle. A fourth factor can also be described β€” a self-sustaining chemical chain reaction β€” to produce the fire tetrahedron. The absence of any of these conditions will result in a fire not starting or extinguishing through smothering oxygen removalcooling heat removal or starving fuel removal.

Solid and liquid materials do not actually combust, but the process of heating causes them to produce vapours which can burn. This is the process of pyrolysis. Through this pyrolysis products will be formed, flammable and volatile substances of low molecular weight caused through the decomposition of materials by fire.

The colour of flames can vary depending on the materials involved in the combustion. The colour of a flame is basically determined by the wavelength of light emitted, which varies depending on the material. Inorganic substances can produce more obvious colour differences, such as copper which will cause a green flame.

Heat produced by a fire can spread in one of three ways; convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is the transfer of heat through air circulation, and only occurs in liquids and gases. An example of convection is the heat from a fire rising and heating the ceiling of a room.

Conduction is the transfer of heat through a medium by direct contact, such as a fire heating a metal beam which transfers the heat elsewhere. Radiation is the emission of heat as infrared radiation without a medium, such as a fire heating and igniting a nearby sofa.

Ignition Ignition will occur when all required conditions to start a fire occur, producing either a smouldering or flaming fire. This will often be induced by the addition of heat to a fuel in air, which can be caused by various sources such as exothermic chemical reactions, friction, solar radiation and electricity. The temperature required for ignition to occur varies depending on the fuel. The flash point is the minimum temperature at which fuel favour is momentarily ignited in air by an external ignition source.

However this will not necessarily sustain combustion and produce a fire. The flame or fire point is the minimum temperature at which enough vapour is produced to allow continued combustion.

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This is usually a few degrees higher than the flash point. Both the flash and flame point of a substance can be determined by placing a small amount of sample in an airtight container, gradually increasing its temperature whilst periodically adding an ignition source, and then measuring the point at which the flash and flame point is reached. The spontaneous ignition temperature, also known as the auto-ignition point, is the lowest temperature at which a substance will ignite without any external ignition source.

This is measured by heating a sample, studying the central temperature of the material and documenting the temperature at which ignition spontaneously occurs. The flash point, flame point and spontaneous ignition temperature are the lowest temperatures at which a material has ignited when heated experimentally, though these actual temperatures can vary and so should only be used as a guideline.

Different fuels also have individual lower and upper flammability limits, the lowest and highest concentrations of flammable gas required for combustion. If the concentration falls outside of this flammability range, combustion will not generally occur. Substances such as hydrogen have wide flammability ranges, making them particularly dangerous.

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Smouldering Not all types of fire produce flames. Smouldering is a form of flameless combustion which occurs at the surface of the material in cellulosic substances that can form a solid char.

The presence of a smouldering fire is characterised by extremely localised burning and the production of thick, tarry smoke. The surface temperature can be linked to the colour of the smouldering.

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For example, dark red surfaces suggest a temperature of o C, whereas a white surface indicates temperatures in excess of o C. The rate of propagation is dependent on the material burning and the amount of oxygen available.Fire investigationsometimes referred to as origin and cause investigationis the analysis of fire-related incidents.

After firefighters extinguish a firean investigation is launched to determine the origin and cause of the fire or explosion. Investigations of such incidents require a systematic approach and knowledge of basic fire science. In common with many forensic disciplines, one of the early tasks of fire investigation is often to determine whether or not a crime has been committed. Many fires are caused by defective equipment, such as shorting of faulty electrical circuits.

Car fires can be caused by faulty fuel linesand spontaneous combustion is possible where organic wastes are stored. A fire investigator looks at the fire remains, and obtains information to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to the fire. One of the challenging aspects of fire investigation is the multi-disciplinary basis of the investigator's job. As fires can be caused by or involve many ignition sources and fuels, fire investigators need to know not only the science of fire behavior, but also to have a working understanding of many different areas of study including construction, electricity, human behavior, and mechanical devices.

For example, if there is a gas appliance at the origin of the fire, an investigator should know enough about appliances to either include or exclude it as a possible cause of the fire. Fire investigators sometimes work with forensic engineerssuch as forensic electrical engineers when examining electrical appliances, household wiring, etc. Icove and Gerald A.

Haynes has long been regarded as the primary textbook in the field of fire investigation. Fire investigators conduct their investigations using a systematic approach utilizing the scientific methodincluding the following: [3] When arsonists attack, there is very rarely much evidence left at the scene. However, arsonists usually use accelerants to speed up a blaze.

fire investigation

Forensic scientists use technologies to heat samples taken from the scene causing any residue to separate. This sample is then analyzed to determine the chemical structure. Scientists also use other tests such as using liquid nitrogen gas to trap residue which are then analyzed using gas chromatography.

The investigator:.

fire investigation

Spoliation is the destruction or alteration of evidence through intention or ignorance. The mere act of extinguishing a fire can destroy potential evidence of arson or what is also known as an "Incendiary fire.

A fire investigation was once compromised by a fire fighter turning off the knobs on a gas stove in the interests of safety after a house fire was knocked down. In the following investigation the homeowner's daughter was accused by her father of leaving the stove on after she left the house but there was then no way to accurately determine the position of the burner knobs on the stove.

Though there were no criminal issues involved in this fire, this incident of spoliation created a lack of closure for the family and feelings of distrust and animosity within the family members. Delmar Cengage Learning - Publishers. Principal among these is a point list of areas in which a fire investigator is required to have education beyond high school level. These 16 topics are:. Both also require an application process detailing the investigator's education, training, and experience, and successfully challenging a written examination.

Certificates are valid for a period of 5 years, at which time an investigator must demonstrate continued participation in the field and a minimum amount of continuing education in order to be recertified.By: Genevieve Belfiglio.

Part detective, scientist, engineer, and law enforcer, the fire investigator represents the collusion of multiple careers rolled into one. It is the fire investigator who must explore, determine, and document the origin and cause of the fire, establish what human actions were responsible for it, then bring authoritative testimony to the courtroom to win a conviction in cases of arson. You really can't take shortcuts.

You must take your own photographs, collect the evidence, do follow up investigations. In instances of incendiary fires, you must find the criminal. An arson investigator will try to determine who is responsible for setting a fire; a fire investigator will attempt to determine the cause and origin of a fire.

Most of the time, fire investigators are also arson investigators, says Agent Carman, who was an ATF arson investigator for four years prior to becoming a fire investigator and serving on ATF's Western National Response Team for nine years. The job of fire investigation is complex, challenging and intriguing - and requires a wide range of skills to perform it effectively.

Fire Investigation

Every fire investigator has a personal perspective on what skills are needed most. Technical training plays a role in determining a lot of the factors in terms of fire behavior and how it attacked the structure you are looking at, whether it be an appliance, piece of equipment, or building.

This technical aspect of the job requires knowledge of building construction and materials and the effects of fire upon those materials. Evidence preservation methods, the effects of fire suppression, fire behavior and burn patterns are also important technical aspects. Search techniques must also be learned so that fire cause evidence and ignition sources are preserved during the investigation. Yet it is important not to become mired in the technical aspects of the investigation at the expense of the human component, suggests fire investigator Paul Zipper, who works in the Office of the State Fire Marshall in Massachusetts.

Typically, there's a fight, an incident, and it's the interviewing that will tell you what happened. That's how you solve cases. Consider two separate fires, both originating in a wastebasket under a sink. In the first, someone emptied an ashtray into the can, igniting a fire from burning ash. In the second, someone lit a match and threw it into the trashcan in hopes of collecting an insurance claim from damages. If you can interview well and learn to read people, and mix that with diagramming, investigation, photography, and report writing, you will be a good fire investigator.

While not all fire investigators have a law enforcement background, many do. In the state of New York, investigators are fire marshals who are full powered police officers some "Fire Marshals" are fire service personnel who have received police training and are sworn as "peace officers".

In Connecticut, "local fire marshals" are usually members of local fire departments or work under the municipal government and get some basic training on code enforcement and origin and cause, but who have no law enforcement powers at all!It takes a special breed of person to become a fire investigator. Imagine having a keen analytical thirst for solving problems combined with a background in engineering and firefighting.

Fire investigators often begin their careers from the back of a fire engine and move into fire detective work.

A typical day in the life of a fire investigator may start by a visit to a devastated pile of smoking rubble. Can you determine how the fire began? How did the building design or interior furnishings contribute to the spreading blaze?

Was foul play involved? Not everyone follows the same pathway to the fire investigation field, and not all employers are looking for the same skill sets. They may work for state departments of fire and safety or for a regional or county fire department.

How to Become a Fire Investigator

The largest number of fire investigators β€” 73 percent β€”is employed by local government, according to the U. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, many fire departments or firefighting organizations offer opportunities for advancement based on time served.

You might as well start right now. Your fire department may even include fire academy as part of your basic firefighter training, sending you to a regional or state school to complete initial fire science training. A federal agency, such as the ATF, requires new investigators to complete a four-year fire science degree before becoming an agent.

Formal coursework combines classroom instruction with field work and research opportunities. Comprehensive programs may also include emergency medical technician training and fire service vehicular operations. Having a background in civil or mechanical engineering, law enforcement, or forensic investigation are all pluses when it comes to rounding out your skill sets. Training programs allow students to take internships or maintain present firefighter jobs to help integrate their education.

Begun inthe CFEI credential is awarded to candidates who pass the basic exams. Ongoing training is a traditional component for professional certifications and designations.

For the certified fire and explosion investigators must undergo recertification training and testing every five year to maintain standing. Certifications are not limited to one organization. Fire investigators can take specific fire science training to become a certified arson investigator. You may choose to work in the private sector, working as a risk analysis in the insurance field or a consultant who supports the building trades with up-to-date support tools and methods in fire planning, fire prevention and fire suppression.

With growth in fire investigation jobs predicted at nine percent for the decade, new jobs will be competitive and the best candidates, according to the BLS, will have experience plus specialized fire inspector training. Content Navigation. AD FireScience. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

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