Fire investigation is a process of examining the root cause of the fire, more appropriately to say that how the fire originated and what were the circumstances that led to the explosion. Investigating the fire scenes helps to collect evidences, perform the documentation and detect all the unnoticeable things that led to the incident. Fire investigation should not be substituted with arson investigation as they are similar terms with a small difference. Here are certain tips that can help the investigators in estimating the probable origin and cause of the fire.
A fire investigator usually arrives when the accident has already taken place. The forensic fire investigators must interact with the first responders and witnesses to collect necessary information pertaining to the incident. Observations carry importance while drawing most of the conclusions. These observations can be used again to derive conclusion in the future.
- Questioning the eyewitnesses:
Generally, there is a possibility of one or more people being present at the time of the explosion. It’s the task of a policeman to inquire about the scene. The investigators too can question them as and when required. Some related questions to ask, but not limited to, are:
What were the first appearances of fire?
Where did it actually appear?
The witnesses should not be given a chance to prove their stories correct before the arrival of the investigator as they tend to make manipulations while stating what exactly happened.
- Avoid Contamination of the scene:
It becomes important to secure the scene from unauthorized visits. Only authorized personnel should be allowed to enter the premises till the investigation is complete. In the areas of dangerous fires, the surrounding place should also be prohibited as they may contain some valuable evidence. The scene should be preserved until the fire investigator has collected all the requisite proofs.
- Adopting a methodical approach:
Fire Investigators should adopt a systematic and methodical approach as the scenes of fatal fires may be full of complexities and complete destruction. The approach calls for a complete understanding of the scene and the techniques of science deployed in the examination. Implementing such approaches help in knowing the accuracy of the information gathered from different sources. Useful data may also be collected by checking the performas and checklists. The investigators can make use of their experiences in evaluating the probable cause of explosions.
- Proper documentation and reports:
At the time of the explosion, every piece of information is useful and it should be recorded from time to time. It is necessary to maintain a record of all the figures and facts collected. Even the mightiest data could serve for greater investigations. The documents so prepared can contain photographs of the fire sights or notes made during the initial examination. Field notes can be prepared to state the questions and answers asked, observations and scene information
Besides, follow-up investigations are also beneficial if it has been detected that the fire is an offense. These follow-ups are helpful in court proceedings.