Fire and Arson Investigation

In America today, Arson is one of the fastest growing crimes. It is also the most expensive crimes committed as shown by the national statistics when measured on a cost-per-incidence basis. About one-half of all fire related property loss in America is because of Arson for profit. Less than 20% of arson arrests result in convictions. The arson-for-profit scheme is related to insurance fraud. Insurance fraud is also often referred to as “the modern way to refinance”.

The main task of the fire investigator like any other criminal investigator is to determine the actual sequence of events. In seeking that, a post-fire examination of the structure or vehicle which became victim to a suspicious fire must be done by the investigator to find out the case and origin of fire.

At the earliest, evidence has to be collected; interviews conducted and comprehensive reports must be prepared of all findings. In case a criminal conduct or evidence of criminality is uncovered in the initial stages, the investigator must at once move on to his secondary task of indentifying the person/s responsible behind the incident and take action against them.

Every pertinent fact that has been identified related to the case is then checked from the investigative checklist. The cases that have to be assigned to the case management are also identified according to this checklist. The investigator’s performance is evaluated according to this checklist which then serves as a supervisory tool; it also assigns additional cases according to the case load. The following types of data are included in an investigative checklist:

identity of the assigned
victim Identification
suspect/defendant information
detailed information related to the incident including time
identity of the fire chief
first firelighter and police officer at the scene etc.
classification of the offense (e.g. Arson, occupied or abandoned, etc.)
detailed information related to investigative procedures and steps taken
identification of physical evidence and follow up procedures
identification related to prosecution of the case
witness information

A chronological listing of incidents, date and time, classification, including whether it is residential or commercial, occupied or abandoned, forest or bush, point of origin of the fire, type of accelerant used or suspected, classification of damage, and death or other injury are put under types of data assessed from related reports.

Canada’s largest consulting forensic engineering and fire investigation firm, Origin and Cause provides cross-disciplinary forensic expertise to insurance companies, law firms, independent adjusters, manufacturers and corporate risk managers.