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Procedures Involved in Arson Investigation Essay

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Updated: May 23rd, 2021

Abstract

Fire investigation is a complex undertaking. As a result, fire investigators are exposed to hazards that may impact negatively on their personal safety. Physical exertion is also required on the part of the investigator. Investigators must take care of their personal safety by using the appropriate equipments. It is noted that fire has inherent destructive powers. Due to the hazardous nature of a fire scene, investigators are charged with the duty and responsibility of maintaining their safety and that of others. The role of a fire investigator is to establish the cause and motives behind the suspected case of arson. Arson’s investigation includes conducting interviews with witnesses around the scene.

Introduction

Fire investigation is more complex than suppression of the blaze itself. Consequently, fire investigators end up evaluating an area that is larger than the one covered by the core of the fire. They also spend long hours processing the scene of the arson. Such investigations involve assessment and examination of the scene. They also entail sifting through charred debris (Redsicker & O’Connor, 1996). As a result, investigators are exposed to hazards. The investigators must take care of their personal safety by using the appropriate equipment. In this paper, the author will analyze the various procedures involved in the fire arson investigation.

The Protective Equipment Appropriate for Fire Investigation

The fire has inherent destructive powers. As a result, arson investigators should be aware of their surroundings when working on the scene of a fire (Fire Protection Association, 2014). Due to the hazards associated with a fire scene, investigators are required to uphold their personal safety. They are also required to ensure that other people around the scene are safe. To achieve this objective, the investigator uses protective equipment and gadgets during investigations. The safety measures include wearing the appropriate safety clothing and using the right respiratory protection gear (Lentini, 2012). Finally, investigators must remain to look out for hazards involved in a fire scene.

Significant Issues at the Arson Site

After arriving on the arson scene, a chief fire investigator must take measures to uphold the safety of the personnel on-site. They should also protect the evidence that may be available on the scene by performing a preliminary assessment of the fire (Dirkmaat, 2012). The investigator must also determine the area to be covered during investigations. When this is done, scene perimeters can be adjusted accordingly. To effectively determine the boundaries of the arson scene, an investigator should undertake a tour of the site. The tour is meant to determine and evaluate the extent of fire damage (Diamantes, 2014). During investigations, standard procedures require an investigator to start from the areas with the least damage. Gradually, the personnel then move to the areas that present more destruction. The approach allows for the identification of areas that need further examination. The procedure should be carried out without disturbing or contaminating the available evidence.

Specific Threats to Consider during Arson Investigation

In the case study presented by Redsicker and O’Connor (1996), the Battalion Chief is of the opinion that there was an initial explosive fire at the back of the house. The explosion was followed by another fire outbreak at the front. The initial suspicion is arson. The investigator is also aware of the heavy chemicals around the facility. During interviews with the owner of the warehouse, the investigator should try to determine the types of chemicals and hazardous materials that were stored in the building (Lentini, 2012). Identification of the chemicals will provide crucial leads as to the source of the fire. It will also be important to identify the owners of Novandor Pool Cleaning Company. Identifying the owners will help in carrying out further investigations to determine the possible motives behind the arson. The issue of the pool owner taking a hefty insurance cover for the building is suspicious. As such, the owner of the warehouse could provide vital information that may help in unraveling the arson mystery.

The Action to Take After the Interview

After investigations at the scene of the fire, an investigator should compile a detailed fire investigation report. The report should provide information on the particulars of the premises, fire protection appliances on-site, as well as a summary of the incidence (Almirall & Furton, 2016). The complete report is delivered to the Station Manager in charge of Risk Reduction. It is then taken through a rigorous analysis process (Fire Protection Association, 2014). Finally, the report is handed to the Head of Prevention. The Head of Prevention signs it before it is released.

Conclusion

A fire investigation is a hazardous engagement. As a result, an investigator must carry protective gear for their safety. Fire investigations should be undertaken systematically. To this end, investigators must be fully aware of the inherent dangers they are exposed to. The investigations must be carried out as soon as the fire has been suppressed. Conducting interviews with witnesses, especially individuals with vested interests on the premises, provides clues as to the motives behind the suspected arson.

References

Almirall, J., & Furton, K. (Eds.). (2016). Analysis and interpretation of fire scene evidence. London, UK: CRC Press.

Diamantes, D. (2014). Principles of fire prevention (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Dirkmaat, D. (Ed.). (2012). A companion to forensic anthropology. London, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Fire Protection Association. (2014). Fire safety and risk management: For the NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lentini, J. (2012). Scientific protocols for fire investigation (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, CA: CRC Press.

Redsicker, D., & O’Connor, J. (1996). Practical fire and arson investigation (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, CA: CRC Press.

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