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Scientific Investigative Techniques in Arson Investigation Essay

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Updated: May 24th, 2021


The given paper is devoted to the analysis of arson. Because the first arrival is crucial for the functioning of the arson investigation unit, the most important peculiarities of the scene are taken into account and examined. The document describes the usage of techniques that could be explored to guarantee positive final outcomes. Additionally, the approach to the evidence collection and work with people who surround the scene is also suggested and discussed. Furthermore, there is an attempt to suggest a scenario that could be applied to this very case. The paper incorporates the basic knowledge about arson investigation, sources of fire, main actions that should be performed at the first arrival, and evidence collection. There is the introduction that describes a setting, body, which includes a description of the main actions and conclusion where the results of the investigation are provided.


Every arson is a unique event that has a number of important peculiarities that should be taken into account to create the complete image of the scene and assure that offenders will be found. The given case revolves around the suspicious fire at the Novandon Discount Department Store. The combination of different facts like three points of fires origin, problems with the staff, etc., results in the classification of the given event as arson. For this reason, the comprehensive investigation of the place is crucial as it will help to collect the needed evidence and discover the main offenders responsible for the crime. This task might be complex; however, it should be accomplished to minimize the risk of backsliding.

First of all, it is crucial to communicate with people staying nearby. They might be just spectators; however, very often, a passer-by could notice something that should be used to investigate the scene (“A guide for investigating fire and arson,” n.d.). Second, members of the arson squad should find out whether there are any suspicious persons in the crowd. For instance, female workers of this very store could be taken as potential offenders as they have some personal motifs for acting in this way. It is known that the company has problems with staff because of discrimination, and a fired worker might take revenge in this way. According to the latest investigation in the sphere of psychology, women often use arson as one of the main ways to get even with someone (Doley, Dickens, & Gannon, 2015). That is why former female workers who are found nearby at the very beginning should be considered the main suspects and questioned.

Besides, it is also extremely important to guarantee security to people who might be affected by the fire and members of the arson squad. For this reason, there are several areas that should be checked to guarantee that the scene could be investigated and no one will suffer. First, the arson investigator should ensure that there is no access to gas or power in the building as it might result in explosions, serious injuries, and even deaths (OConnor & Redsicker, 1996). Therefore, another important area that should be checked is the state of the building after the fire. The fact is that it could do serious harm to construction and cause the buildings collapse, which is extremely dangerous. In this regard, these areas should be given great attention at the very first stages of the investigation of arson.

Nevertheless, considering the peculiarities of the case, the character of the relations within the collective, and the current state of the Novandon Discount Department Store, it is possible to suggest subpoenaing of the following documents. All papers related to fire security, fire orders, risk assessment, and the latest investigations should be provided to demonstrate that there are no violations and the fire developed because of arson (Reno et al., 2000). Additionally, considering the information obtained from the battalion chief, the data about all employees, their rewards, penalties, and dismissal should also be collected. The fact is that these people have the motif, and that is why their cases should be investigated comprehensively. Finally, the data about the ladies clothing department and outdoor and garden section should also be provided because these areas are the points of the fires origin.

Continuing the investigation of this arson, it is also important to find artifacts that could prove the point of origin and indicate the heat. First of all, areas in which fire starts burn for a long period of time; that is why they are the most damaged ones (Harris, n.d.). The stores departments which are in the worst state could be considered to origins of fire. Moreover, glass objects are other artifacts indicating the temperature and the place where the fire started. The fact is that the fire damage to this material helps to indicate the temperature and a sort of materials used to stimulate ignition. Finally, burning wallpaper could also show the main ignition points. (Harris, n.d.).

Nevertheless, considering the fact that the case could be classified as arson, the first element of evidence are samples collected for the analysis of accelerants (“The pocket guide to accelerant evidence collection,” n.d.). The fact is that the usage of these burning fuels is not always evident, and additional research to determine the nature and development of fire is needed. Moreover, surface samples from the suspected points of ignition should be collected (“Evidence collection and laboratory analysis,” n.d.). They will help to trace the whole process and identify the type of fire, heat, etc. However, one should also remember that the area and surface might be too damaged to obtain the needed sample and analyze it. For this reason, materials could be collected using alternative approaches from grooves between or beneath floorboards or from other places not so damaged by fire (OConnor & Redsicker, 1996). Additionally, such materials as cloth, carpets, soil, cardboard are outstanding absorbents (OConnor & Redsicker, 1996). They are most likely to contain elements that could help to determine the nature of fire. That is why they should be put in separate containers and delivered to the laboratory. The results of this very investigation will later be used when creating the full image and trying to find the main offenders.

Accelerant detecting canines could also be used to increase the accuracy of the investigation and state whether accelerants were used or not. These very canines are trained to detect levels of ILRs and can show a member of the arson investigation unit the place of their greatest concentration (“Evidence collection and laboratory analysis,” n.d.). According to the latest researches, the given method is very efficient as in the majority of cases, specialists using trained dogs demonstrated much greater efficiency and were able to find the area of ignition with outstanding accuracy (Doley, Dickens, & Gannon, 2015). Moreover, the method also helps to determine the usage of accelerants and make certain conclusions related to this fact.

Traditionally, the arson squad arrives at the crime scene as soon as it is possible. For this reason, they could face a certain threat as numerous harmful substances are released during the fire. That is why they, first of all, should possess the individual protective gear to be able to cope with any danger that might appear. Second, they should also have an evidence collection kit that might consist of different tools, depending on the nature of the fire. There should be safety gloves, separate boxes for samples, and instruments like a hammer, chisel, tongs, etc., to collect the needed materials.

Altogether, considering the data obtained in the course of the investigation and the background information related to the case, it is possible to promulgate a theory related to it. It should be classified as arson. There are three points of origin in the ladies clothing department and downstairs in outdoor and garden sections. Besides, the company had some conflicts between employees based on gender inequality which resulted in eighteen womens dismissal. Moreover, some of these dismissed workers used to work in these departments and were also noticed in the crowd which gathered to watch the fire. Considering all these facts, it is possible to make a conclusion that one of these employees could be considered an offender who wants to take revenge and enjoy the view of the burning store. That is why she was not able to leave the crime scene. Moreover, arson is one of the main methods often used by women (Doley, Dickens, & Gannon, 2015). We could conclude that this arson was committed because of some personal motifs.


(n.d.). Web.

Doley, R., Dickens, G., & Gannon, T. (2015). The psychology of arson: A practical guide to understanding and managing deliberate firesetters. London: Routledge.

(n.d.). Web.

Harris, T. (n.d.). Web.

OConnor, J., & Redsicker, D. (1996). Practical fire and arson investigation. Boca-Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Reno, J., Marcus, D., Lou Leary, M., & Samuels, J. (2000). Web.

(n.d.). Web.

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