Choose one type of fire: wildland, motor vehicle, and marine. Discuss the investigation process for such as it would relate to arson.
Wildland fires are different because of the environment. There are 2 phases in which the fire spreads. The first part is, heat transfers which causes the fire to spread from low vegetation. Second part is higher vegetation which would be tree branches. As the fire increases the heats tempature and size, increases and spreads rapidly and laterally.
Fire investigators must be trained in wildfire investigation to fully understand how the process works. If the investigator has no training and is not certified as a wildland firefighter then they need to be trained.
For safety reasons two investigators are assigned to the incident. At all times they need to operate under the direction of the incident management system and stay in constant contact with the fire suppression units at the scene.
The investigators need to become familiar with the “fireline handbook” and follow the standard firefighting orders and watch-out situations.
They are required to use their personal protective equipment (PPE) that was issued to them. This is because using the correct PPE’s can save their lives if the conditions from the fire suddenly change.
Monitor radio’s,weather and your surroundings and have strategies and tactics in place incase you have to get out of your location. Re-evaluate your escape route constantly. Have a back up plan and watch for air drops from planes flying in the area.
Fire investigators should be using a methodical approach to wildland arson fires. Doing it this way can uncover new evidence fir analizing process. The scientific method is an organized way to process the scene. There are 7 steps to follow.
1. Recognize the need
2. Define the problem
3. Collect data
4. Analyze data
5. Develop a hypothesis
6. Test the hypothesis
7. Select the final hypothesis
7 steps to wildland fire investigation – Cited from: https://www.nwcg.gov › files
Guide to Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination, PMS 412 – NWCG
In conclusion, being trained in wildland investigations, using safety procedures, wearing ppe’s, and following the guidlines from the fireline handbook will save your life.
NFPA 921 (2001 Edition), Chapter 23: Wildfire Investigations. DeHaan, John D. Kirk’s Fire Investigation. Fourth Edition.
Minnich, Tom. Handbook for Assisting in a Wildland Fire Investigation. National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Protection Program.
Arson is possibly the oldest and most iconic role of any Fire Prevention Officer. We typically think of arson in large commercial buildings or forest fires. But, arson occurs quite commonly in motor vehicles as well. Like all other types of fire investigation, but specifically proving arson, requires consistent practice and a series of steps.
The investigation like all others begins at the point of ignition. Fire with a single point of ignition will travel up and out with a pattern that is visible. It is important to note that if fires burn the entire vehicle for an excessive amount of time these patterns would be difficult or impossible to see.
The iconic car arson is a stolen vehicle dumped in a field and torched with gasoline. While not always the case, incendiaries are used and can be identified as a burn pattern of its own. A lack or origin point and several patterns of progression from a larger area may indicate incendiaries. It is also important to look for electronics or items of value that have been removed. It can be beneficial to cross reference these findings with the owner depending on the situation. Furthermore, it can be beneficial to check to see if the vehicle’s gas lines and/or caps were in place at the time. Tampering of these lines may be indicative of arson.
In summary, these stand alone pieces of evidence do not land a conviction. It is essential to have a suspect and proof of a specifics actions taken. Additionally, all other methods of ignition must be ruled out.
(n.d.). Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720. doi: 10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f
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