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Flashcards in Arson - fire scene investigation Deck (15)
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Procedure on arrival

1- brief interview with infmt (remember they may be offender)
2- secure and control scene
3- Initial interview of Specialist Fire Investigator (SFI) and O/C first fire appliance to attend
4- Interview incident controller at the scene
5- if fire extinguished, ensure safety of scene before initial conference is held with Specialist Fire Investigator and Police - conduct prelim scene exam
6- if deemed suspicious, re-groupand hold a briefing conference
7- confer with staff and determine plan of action (guard and control of scene / ID and interview witnesses / local enquiries)
8- SITREP with Comms - request assistance if necessary (i.e FILO, photographer, fingerprints)


Initial interview with scene incident controller. Cover:

- time/date of call and the manner it was received
- what appliances attended
- state of fire when arrived
- what action fire service has taken - in particular entering and ventilating scene
- what info they about about the buildings security
- whether they think fire suspicious and why
- opinions of informant (i.e do they regularly attend/report fires?)
- details of people/vehicles acting suspiciously


Witnesses to interview include:

- person/s who found fire
- fire fighters
- occupants and their visitors
- employees, incl cleaners and casual staff
- owners
- neighbours
- spectators
- local Police
- vendors and delivery people


Scene security considerations

- ensure scene is not interfered with
- exclusion and control of on-lookers, property owners and interested parties
- preserving evidence
- preventing looting


Attending Police should be aware of:

- aware of re-ignition from hotspots after fire extinguished
- be viligant and watch for possible suspects
- ID witnesses among onlookers and passer-bus
- report all matters of significance to O/C investigation and/or scene co-ordinator


Point of origin

Exact location at which:
- a component failed
- a fire was lit maliciously
- and accidental fire originated


External examination takes into account:

1- Adjoining premises which often reveal:
- accelerant containers
- attempts at forced entry
- broken windows
- forced doors
2- nearby alleyways/streets/driveways
3- the yards and outbuildings of the fire effected property
4- the periphery of the structure itself
5- what distance debris was scattered, particularly if drums or cylinders have exploded
6- the surrounding area of involved premises may also reveal:
- accelerant containers
- contents of outbuildings missing
- property run-down
- business appears to be struggling
7- The damaged structure itself may reveal:
- jemmy marks or other signs of forced entry
- window broken before fire ignited
- burn patterns above does and windows and "V" shaped burn patterns on external cladding


PRE-LIM internal examination

Should involve a slow walk through the premises, from area of least damage to most damage, taking note of indicators such as:
1- low stock levels in commercial premises
2- buildings in need of repair
3- signs of hardship (empty flats/shops etc)
4- missing family photographs, furniture, personal items
5- lack of clothing in wardrobes and drawers
6- rifled premises
7- position of clothes if not in wardrobe or drawer
8- open filing cabnets or missing files
9- forced entry into an empty till
10- presence of accelerant containers or trails
11- separate unrelated seats of fire
12- owner/occupier attitude during walk through (if access permitted)
13- unusual odours
14- burn patterns


DETAILED internal examination

Following the pre-lim exam, you will accompany the specialist fire investigator as they complete a details exam of the scene. Their observations and notes will include:
1- smoke deposits and burn patterns
2- spalling (cracking/chipping of concrete)
3- damage to wall studs
4- damage to roof timbers
5- damage to windows and sills and door edges
6- soot deposits on window glass and craze patterns
7- floor areas burned through
8- skirting board damage
9- elimination of false low burns
10- removal of fire debris
11- under floor inspection


Conclusion of examination, SFI will be able to determine:

- area of origin
- point of origin
- the seat of the fire


Cause of fire. Look for:

Evidence of:
1- accelerants such as:
- containers
- traces of debris
- smell
- unusually rapid spread or intensity of fire
- uneven burning
- burning under boards where liquid has run through cracks
- multiple seats of fire
2- intentional interference, such as:
- tampering with alarm or sprinkler system
- hindering access
- misdirecting fire fighters
3- intentional removal or valuable property, or substitution of property
4- furniture being re-arranged to create fire base
5- windows and skylights being open to create a draught
6- signs a crime has been committed
7- signs a heater, soldering iron or other appliance has been left on
8- inconsistencies
9- unusual burn patterns or unusual time factors (i.e fie started after building secured)



1- photo in situ, label, preserve in containers
2- use approved arson kits if possible - if not, suitable containers like unused paint tins
3- Take control samples:
- charred timber and ashes or debris from the seat of the fire for examination and caparison with samples from other points
- any accelerants found near the scene
- soil from surrounding areas


Conduct Area enquiries

1- Conduct area enquiries, i.e send staff to interview ppl who work at other warehouses to see if there have been any trouble with arson attempts
2- Conduct pre-lim with owner. Specifically:
- when premises was last secured, and by whom
- whether he or she knows the cause of the fire
- the details of any suspects and any insurance
- type of business
- actions leading up to the fire
3- note owners demeanour during the pre-lim interview
4- complete interviews and obtain, or arrange to obtain, FWS from informant, witnesses and owner
5- give your supervisor a SITREP. be prepared to speak at scene conference


Conference must be held during scene exam to assist you with:

- assessing info obtained
- estab possible motives
- ID suspects
- planning further enquires


People attending conferences could include:

- crime scene co-ordinator
- O/C investigation
- investigating officers
- Police photographer
- Fingerprint/SOCO