Arson Awareness Week 2020 (May 3-9) highlights the crucial role that firefighters can play in a successful fire investigation. Firefighters are not just the first responders to the fire, but first responders to the fire investigation as well. They are the eyes and ears of the professionals who investigate fires to determine their origin and cause. It’s important for any private or public sector fire investigator to work closely with the firefighters to properly determine origin & cause.
Many investigators on our staff here at Jack Ward are former firefighters which allows them a unique perspective into gathering information for their investigations. Firefighters lay the foundation for the scene examination. If firefighters are aware of the scene, they can play a vital role in preserving clues for the fire investigators.
We would like to thank all firefighters and other first responders for their willingness to run in when everyone else runs out. We appreciate all that you do for the safety of the public and for the critical role you play in our investigations. Below are some questions to help firefighters more clearly identify key information when responding to a fire.
Responding to the scene
Did you see a car speeding away from the scene of the fire?
Did you observe any weather events that could explain the fire?
Did you pass a utility truck working on the electric lines down the street on the way to the scene?
Did you see a familiar person with bystanders that you noticed at another incident?
Was access to the property made extremely difficult?
What did you observe on your 360?
Did you see what looked like a possible incendiary device?
Did you observe holes in the walls, ceiling or flooring that would help the fire spread?
Was the appliance plugged in before you moved it?
Were there obvious multiple fires throughout the property?
Did you discover any tampering or impedance to building fire protection systems?
Were combustibles too close to an operating heat source?
Did you implement any flow path controls?
Did you apply a SLICERS fire attack?
Did you use the proper hose stream? Hose stream management can positively affect the outcome of a fire investigation.
After the fire
Were any contents obviously missing or removed prior to the fire?
Did you discover evidence of another crime (burglary, vandalism, homicide)?
What did the occupants say about the location of origin or the cause of the fire?
Do not overhaul prior to the arrival of the fire investigator.