FIRE AND EXPLOSION INVESTIGATION


Every fire and explosion is a completely unique situation. This is like completing a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the picture looks like


Fire And Explosion Investigation

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Every fire and explosion is a completely unique situation. This is like completing a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the picture looks like.

Crimes associated with fire and explosions are sometimes the most difficult to process and analyze because it often compromises the evidence left behind. Forensic investigations of fire involve identification of origin, cause, and responsibility. Issues such as rapid fire spread, failure of occupants to escape, and failure of detection and suppression are also necessary in this kind of investigation. Meanwhile, the investigations on explosions need to determine the nature of explosion, type of fuel, and the responsibility for the explosion. Terrorists bombing are usually investigated by specialists employed by national government.

A fire or explosion investigation is a complex endeavor involving skill, science, and technology. Compilation and analysis of factual data should be done truthfully.


Fire Investigation

This involves the examination of all fire-related incidents once firefighters have extinguished the fire. The fire scene must be preserved and evidence must be collected and analysed, though a lot of difficulties may arise.

    1. Treat a fire incident as a crime scene to preserve evidence
    2. Establish point of origin (start of the fire).
    3. Determine the cause of fire :
          a. Arson
          b. Electrical Fires
          c. Upholstery fires
          d. Flashover
          e. Outdoor Fires

Nature and Chemistry of Fire

Fire occurs due to the exothermic reaction of combustion that produces heat and light. For a fire to occur, three components must be present: fuel source, oxidant, and a sufficient amount of energy in the form of heat. Solid and liquid materials do not actually combust but because of heat, they produce vapours that can burn. This is called pyrolysis.

Heat produced by fire can spread in three ways: convection, conduction, and radiation.

  • Convection - Heat transferred through air circulation. Only occurs inliquids and gases.

  • Conduction - Heat transferred through a medium by direct contact.

  • Radiation - Heat emitted as infrared radiation without a medium.

Explosives Analysis

Explosives are used for a number of applications such as mining and military operations, but these can also be used by criminals and terrorist. Bombs can be explosive devices, incendiary devices or a combination of the two.

Fire Scene Investigation

The purpose of a fire investigation is to establish the origin of the fire and conclude whether the incident is accidental, natural, or deliberate.

    1. Arriving at the scene
          a. Observe the fire and scene conditions
          b. Exercise scene safety
          c. Preserve the fire scene
          d. Establish security and control
          e. Coordinate integrity activities
    2. Evaluating the scene
          a. Define the investigator’s role
          b. Ensure scene integrity
          c. Conduct the scene walkthrough
          d. Secure required resources
    3. Documenting the scene
          a. Develop written documentation
          b. Photograph and videotape the scene
          c. Locate and interview victims and witnesses
    4. Processing evidence at the scene
          a. Assemble the evidence processing team
          b. Organize evidence processing
          c. Control scene contamination
          d. Identify, collect, preserve, inventory, package, and transport evidence
    5. Completing and recording the scene investigation
          a. Make sure all investigative steps are documented
          b. Ensure that scene processing is complete
          c. Release the scene
          d. Submit reports

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It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It Biases the Judgement

Sherlock Holmes