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					Essentials of Fire Fighting,
         5th Edition

Chapter 18 — Protecting Fire
       Scene Evidence
        Firefighter I
Chapter 18 Lesson Goal

• After completing this lesson, the
 student shall be able to identify
 indicators of an incendiary fire and
 protect and preserve evidence after a
 fire following the policies and
 procedures set forth by the authority
 having jurisdiction (AHJ).


                  Firefighter I
                     18–1
Specific Objectives

 1. Describe signs and indications of an
    incendiary fire.
 2. Summarize important observations to
    be made en route, after arriving at
    the scene, and during fire fighting
    operations.
 3. Discuss firefighter conduct and
    statements at the scene.            (Continued)


                   Firefighter I
                      18–2
Specific Objectives

 4. Explain firefighter responsibilities after
    the fire.
 5. Discuss protecting and preserving
    evidence.




                   Firefighter I
                      18–3
Determining Cause

• In most jurisdictions the fire chief has
  the legal responsibility for determining
  the cause and origin of a fire.
• Delegates this authority to the fire
  officers and firefighters at the scene


                                        (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–4
Determining Cause

• Proper training enables firefighters to
  recognize and collect important
  information
• First-arriving firefighters are in a
  position to observe unusual conditions
  that may indicate an incendiary fire



                  Firefighter I
                     18–5
First-arriving Firefighters Should
Note

• Vehicles and people present in the area
• Status of doors and windows
• Evidence of forced entry by anyone
  other than firefighters
• Contents of the rooms
• Indications of unusual fire behavior or
  more than one point of origin

                  Firefighter I
                     18–6
Observations En Route

• Time of day
• Weather and natural
  hazards
• Barriers
• People leaving the
  scene


                 Firefighter I
                    18–7
Observations Upon Arrival

• Time of arrival and extent
  of fire
• Wind direction and
  velocity
• Doors or windows locked
  or unlocked
• Location of the fire
                                 (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–8
Observations Upon Arrival

• Containers or cans
• Burglary tools
• Familiar faces




                 Firefighter I
                    18–9
Observations During Fire
Fighting Operations

• Unusual odors
• Abnormal behavior of
  fire when water is
  applied
• Obstacles hindering
  fire fighting

                                 (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–10
Observations During Fire
Fighting Operations

•   Incendiary devices
•   Trailers
•   Structural alterations
•   Fire patterns



                                    (Continued)


                    Firefighter I
                       18–11
Observations During Fire
Fighting Operations

• Heat intensity
• Availability of documents
• Fire detection and
  protection systems
• Intrusion alarms
• Location of fire
                                 (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–12
Observations During Fire
Fighting Operations

•   Personal possessions
•   Household items
•   Equipment or inventory
•   Business records




                  Firefighter I
                     18–13
Conduct and Statements at the
Scene

• Firefighters should obtain as much
  information as possible
• Owners or occupants of the property
  should be allowed to talk freely



                                       (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–14
Conduct and Statements at the
Scene

• Firefighters should not attempt to
  interrogate a potential arson suspect
  unless trained and authorized
• Firefighters should refrain from
  expressing personal opinions


                                       (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–15
Conduct and Statements at the
Scene

• After the investigator arrives,
  firefighters should make statements
  only to this individual




                                        (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–16
Conduct and Statements at the
Scene

• Public statement regarding fire cause
 should be made only after
  – The investigator and ranking fire officer
    have agreed to its accuracy and validity
  – Have given permission for it to be released




                   Firefighter I
                      18–17
Responsibilities After the Fire

• Firefighters should report their
  observations to their supervisor
• Firefighters should not discuss their
  observations with other crew members
• Improperly done overhaul operations
  can be detrimental to the investigation


                  Firefighter I
                     18–18
Securing the Fire Scene

• Fire department has the authority to
 deny access to any building
  – During fire fighting operations
  – For a reasonable length of time after fire
    suppression is terminated



                                            (Continued)


                   Firefighter I
                      18–19
Securing the Fire Scene

• If an investigator is
  not immediately
  available, the fire
  department or other
  lawful authority
  should keep control
  of the premises until
  all evidence has
  been collected                   (Continued)


                   Firefighter I
                      18–20
Securing the Fire Scene

• Once all fire personnel leave the
 scene, a search warrant or written
 consent to search will be required to
 reenter the premises



                                      (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–21
Securing the Fire Scene

• Fire personnel should not allow
  anyone to enter a fire scene without
  the investigator’s permission
• The premises can be secured and
  protected in several ways


                                     (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–22
Securing the Fire Scene

• Cordoning can be accomplished with
 rope or specially designed fire and
 police line tape




                 Firefighter I
                    18–23
Protecting and Preserving
Evidence

• Protect evidence by keeping it
  untouched and undisturbed until an
  investigator arrives
• Do not gather or handle evidence
  unless it is absolutely necessary in order
  to preserve it

                                       (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–24
Protecting and Preserving
Evidence

• If firefighters handle or procure
  evidence, they then become a link in
  the chain of custody for that evidence
• Evidence must remain undisturbed
  except when absolutely necessary for
  the extinguishment of the fire

                                      (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–25
Protecting and Preserving
Evidence

• Firefighters must avoid trampling over
  possible evidence and obliterating it
• The same precaution applied to the
  excessive use of water may help avoid
  similar unsatisfactory results


                                      (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–26
Protecting and Preserving
Evidence

• Human footprints and
 tire marks must be
 protected; use
 cardboard boxes



                                (Continued)


                Firefighter I
                   18–27
Protecting and Preserving
Evidence

• Protect completely or partially burned
  papers found in a furnace, stove, or
  fireplace by immediately closing
  dampers and other openings
• Leave charred documents found in
  containers

                                         (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–28
After Evidence Has Been
Collected

• After evidence has been properly
  collected by an investigator, debris may
  be removed
• Remove charred materials to prevent
  the possibility of rekindle and to help
  reduce smoke damage

                                      (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–29
After Evidence Has Been
Collected

• Unburned materials can be separated
 from the debris and cleaned




                Firefighter I
                   18–30
Summary

• Before an investigation into the origin
 and cause of a fire can be conducted,
 there must be evidence to evaluate.




                                       (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–31
Summary

• As a firefighter, one of the most
 important responsibilities is to avoid
 disturbing or destroying evidence while
 fighting the fire. In the area of origin
 appropriate caution must be used when
 spraying water, moving debris, and
 even walking around.
                                      (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–32
Summary

• Once the area of origin is known, a
 more thorough investigation can be
 conducted to determine the exact cause
 of the fire.



                                        (Continued)


                 Firefighter I
                    18–33
Summary

• As a firefighter, it may be necessary to
 determine the cause of the fire; more
 likely, firefighters may be assigned to
 assist their supervisor or a fire
 investigator in making that
 determination.

                                       (Continued)


                  Firefighter I
                     18–34
Summary

• If the fire origin and cause investigation
  reveals evidence of arson, the property
  becomes a crime scene and must be
  treated as one. Firefighters must
  cooperate fully with whoever is
  assigned to investigate the crime.



                  Firefighter I
                     18–35
Review Questions

1. What observations should be made en
   route?
2. What observations should be made
   upon arrival?
3. What observations should be made
   during firefighting operations?

                                  (Continued)


               Firefighter I
                  18–36
Review Questions

4. What actions should firefighters take
   after a fire?
5. Why is protecting evidence
   important?




                Firefighter I
                   18–37

				
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