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Flashcards in Initial Action Deck (11)
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Preserving a Fire Scene
Guarding and Controlling a Scene

1. Ensuring the scene is not interfered with

2. Exclusion and control of onlookers, property owns and other interested parties

3. Preserving evidence

4. Preventing looting

5. Be aware of re-ignition from hotspots after the fire is extinguished

6. Be vigilant and watch for possible suspects

7. Identity any witnesses among onlookers and passer-by’s

8. Report all matters of significance to the O/C investigation and/or scene co-ordinator


Preserving a Fire Scene
Common Approach Path

All traffic through the scene should be limited to corridors, ie the paths which will keep disturbance of the scene to a minimum.

Ideally the investigator should search the areas to be used a corridors prior to them receiving any other traffic. This will reduce the possibility of evidence being introduced to the scene after the event. It will also reduce the possibility of evidence being damaged during subsequent fire inspections and investigation.


Initial Action when dealing with fires Not involving explosives

- Secure and Control Scene
- Interview informant (may be offender), fire investigator, OC of first fire appliance and incident controller
- Ensure safety of scene before initial conference
- If suspicious then re-group and hold briefing conference
- Confer with other staff and plan action. Task to guard and control scene, identify and interview witnesses, conduct enquiries
- Contact comms and supply sitrep. Ask for assistance if necessary and consider specialists - fingerprints, phots etc.


What to find out from incident controller

1. The time and date of the call and the manner in which is was received
2. The state of the fire when the fire service arrived
3. What fire appliances attended
4. What actions were taken at the scene, ie particularly in the fire service gaining entry and ventilating the scene after the fire
5. What information the fire service knows about the scene’s security
6. What alternations have been made to the scene, eg doors forced open or windows
7. What their opinion is of the informant
8. Where they believe the fire is suspicious, why?
9. Details of any vehicles or persons acting suspiciously in the vicinity


Preserving a fire scene

Fire Scene Contamination

To assist in preserving the scene as much as possible whilst firefighting operations are in progress, the investigator should liaise with the Fire incident commander to limit unnecessary operations within the area of origin, including the number of personnel inside a structure


Prelim interview of Owner - Find out:

1. When the premises were last secured, and by whom
2. Whether he or she knows the cause of the fire
3. The details of any suspects and any insurance
4. Type of business
5. Actions leading up to the fire


Initial Action Involving Explosives

1. Remember they may be a secondary device anywhere at the scene, including a nearby building or vehicle. Do not handle or interfere with anything unfamiliar

2. Do not use cell phones, portable radios or other transmitting devices

3. Evacuate the scene to a distance of at least 100 metres. Ensure that people leaving the scene bring their personal possessions with them. This will limit the number of items to be cleared. Consider using an explosives detector dog to locate the device

4. If the IED is located, immediately obtain the assistance of an IED operator from the Dept of Labour. If no Dept of Labour operators are available, consider utilising a Defence Force expert. Bear in mind that the expertise of Armed Services operators relates primarily to military ordnance

5. Give regular sitrep’s to Police comms


Examining scene of explosives - What to look for

1. Cratering

2. Spread of debris

3. Shredding of materials

4. A smell peculiar to the exploded material, for eg, the smell of almonds is associated with explosive or exploded material

5. An overlay of dust

6. Shrapnel Marks


What to consider when identifying the best method of protection in relation to fire safety hazards

1. An assessment of each hazard

2. A strategy to prevent an occurrence or to mitigate its impact


Suspect enquiries in respect of fires not involving explosives

1. You may identify the suspect by means of (circs, forensics, informants/witnesses, media, external agencies, internal units.)
2. Possible suspects may include (owner/occupier, employee, crims covering tracks, angry person, 1M, kids, fire service, competitor)
3. Investigate suspects thoroughly and according to priority(details, history, vehicle access, associates, photos)
4. Consider surveillance
5. Complete enquiries to establish motive, mens rea etc.
6. Consider a search warrant (known locations, re evidence.
7. Interview the suspect
8. Consider a photo montage
9. Enquiries to corroborate or negate the suspects explanation
10. Advise supervisor, enough evidence to charge
11. Arrest
12. Complete computer correspondence, expire alerts etc.


Preserving a fire scene

Scope and Cordon

- How much of the area needs to be preserved
- Small area or large area.

- Make cordons wide as possible .