Fire Scene

Fire Scene Observation

  • The Fire Scene is the physical location of a fire incident.
  • Every detail pertaining to the fire scene, even the smallest, can be valuable in a forensic fire investigation.
  • Comprehensive photography and videography is critical for documentation, capturing all angles and perspectives of the scene.
  • Mapping of the fire scene may be conducted to create a detailed layout for a clearer understanding of the scene.

Initial Fire Scene Assessment

  • Initial assessment of a fire scene involves identifying potential dangers like building structure stability, biohazards and chemical hazards.
  • Safety of the personnel onsite is paramount; wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential.
  • Securing the fire scene to prevent unwanted tampering or contamination is also a crucial step.

Investigating the Fire Scene

  • The entire scene is systematically assessed to identify fire patterns, causes and the potential area of origin.
  • Physical evidence is collected, preserved and analysed, which may include samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Fire investigators may use tools such as sniffer devices to detect presence of accelerants.

Determining Origin and Cause of the Fire

  • Investigators will aim to determine where the fire started. This area is referred to as the point of origin.
  • The cause of fire can be natural, accidental or deliberate; identifying this is crucial in the investigation.
  • Attention is paid to areas that show the least amount of damage. Fires usually start in these areas and spread outwards, consuming more material and causing more damage.

Fire Pattern Analysis

  • Fire pattern analysis involves observing and documenting the visible and measurable effects of a fire.
  • Patterns can be utilised to determine direction of fire spread, point of origin and possible causes.
  • Contrast between burned and unburned areas, heat shadows, and smoke stains are all features that can help indicate the fire’s movement and intensity.

Reporting and Testifying

  • Investigators must prepare a comprehensive fire scene report which records all observations, procedures, and conclusions.
  • On occasions, they may have to testify in court proceedings to explain their findings and expert opinions regarding the fire incident.

Remember, rigorous training in forensic science, fire behaviour, and investigation techniques prepares investigators to apply a systematic and scientific approach to fire scene examination and enables them to provide accurate reports that can have significant legal implications.