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Who has the joint responsibility of determining origin and cause of fires?

Suppression and investigatory personnel.

1

What types of incidents will have an automatic response by the FMO?

Incendiary or suspicious fires in occupied properties.
Incendiary or suspicious fires with witnesses and or suspects.
Multiple alarms.
Death or serious injuries that require hospitalization.
Hazmat incidents including fumes, vapors and other dangerous gas conditions.
Mass casualty incidents.
Explosions.
When requested by the first in BC and the FMO determines an immediate response is necessary.
When a person is taken into custody at a fire scene.
Structural collapse.
On all fires that place two & two in service.

2

What is a routine response by the FMO?

An investigation other than an automatic response investigation.
Routine responses will be conducted the following day except weekends and holidays.

3

What types of incidents will trigger a routine response FMO?

Building fires of 30 minutes or greater for the first in company.
Undetermined fires in all structures.
Incendiary fires.- Ex. vacant properties or vehicles with no suspects or witnesses.
Certain large loss fires.
When a request is initiated by the first in BC and the FMO determines an immediate response is not necessary.

4

Whose responsibility is it to gather and take custody of all evidence cooperate with the police and District attorneys office and other law enforcement agencies in the prosecution and presentation of the evidence if criminal charges are preferred?

The fire Marshall's office.

5

When dispatched what will the assistant fire marshal be responsible for?

1. to record the cause of fire on the report of fire alarm form.
2. Initiate procedure necessary to obtain police follow-up assistance for arson/false alarm investigations and or arrests.
3. Initiate notification of all necessary support agencies involved in hazmat incidents and to act as liaison between all outside agencies and the incident commander, prepare appropriate reports.

6

What is the first in BC responsible for?

1. Initiate investigation of fires in the absence of an assistant fire marshal.
2. Work with the officer of the first in engine company to determine fire origin and cause.
3. Determine if the services of an assistant fire marshal are necessary.
4. Gather all pertinent data available to assist the assigned investigator.
5. When applicable, inform the first in officer as to the cause of fire so it can be recorded on the fire report.

7

What are the responsibilities for the first in company officer?

1. Be responsible for initiating the investigation and in determining the origin and cause in the absence of the first in BC or an FMO.
2. To record the cause of fire on the fire report. The only official causes that may be used are listed in appendix A fires by cause.
3. List "referred to fire Marshall's office" as the cause of fire when the fire marshal is on the scene or the scene has been secured by police and the FMO is enroute.
4. When police are utilized to secure a scene obtain the police officer's name, badge and car number for documentation of scene security.

8

What is FCC responsible for?

1. To notify the FMO of all events warranting their attention.
2. Record times, locations, names, phone numbers and reasons for request for a response to an incident scene by an FMO.
3. Record all locations where security is maintained by police.
4. Record the cause of fire on the computer, under incident history, using only the causes listed in appendix A.
5. Record the type of property listed under building or nonbuilding, as listed on the analysis of fire alarm.

9

How will a request be made for an immediate response by an FMO?

Via the FCC. Notification should be made, as soon as possible, prior to overhauling operations.

10

Who will ensure that the scene is secured until the arrival of an investigator? And what information will be made available to the investigators upon their arrival?

The incident commander.
If the scene is to be maintained by the police, specific instructions will be given to restrict the admittance of any persons without the approval of the assigned FMO.
All pertinent information will be made available to the FMO. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses and or suspects will be recorded and forwarded to the FMO.
The exchange of information is critical whether the response is immediate or of a routine nature.

11

Who plays a key role and in many instances are capable of determining the cause or developing critical information to assist the FMO?

Suppression personnel.

12

What should you do when the available evidence suggests that the fire may be of a suspicious origin?

All evidence should be left where found, and photographed in place. The preservation of the fire scene is very important.

13

What is the beginning of the chain of custody?

Photographic documentation. Overhauling operations should be held to a minimum so that the scene is not disturbed and evidence destroyed.

14

How should evidence be handled on the incident scene?

Evidence should be moved only if it is necessary to alleviate a dangerous condition. It SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN BACK TO THE STATION.

15

How should fatalities be handled at the fire scene?

Whenever fatalities have been confirmed, beyond doubt, the bodies will be left in the exact position discovered, pending the arrival of an assistant fire marshal.
Whenever possible, company officers should note the location and position of any injured persons removed from the fire scene. This information is vital to the FMO, in the event the injury results in death at a later date.

16

In many instances, how can an accurate determination of origin and cause be determined?

By following basic guidelines and questioning key witnesses during the initial stages of the investigation.

Equally important is recognizing certain signs that indicate the incident requires follow-up by an FMO.

17

What should you do when questioning an apparent witness and it is determined that the witness could possibly be perceived as a suspect?

All questioning other than by an assistant fire marshal or police personnel should cease immediately and an assistant fire marshal should be requested to the fire ground.

18

What is the primary purpose of a fire investigation?

To determine what caused the fire and whether it was of accidental or incendiary origin.

The first step is to determine where the fire originated. Determining the origin narrows the search and frequently can pinpoint what caused the fire.

19

What method can be used to conduct a systematic investigation of the origin and cause?

Start with the area of least damage and work toward the area of greatest damage. The area which indicates the lowest point of burning in the room may possibly be the point of origin.

20

When investigating a fire it is important to eliminate what first?

All possible sources of ignition from natural or accidental causes. This could include utilities, appliances, wiring, smoking, cooking, chemical reaction, children playing with matches, etc.

The physical evidence should be checked against statements taken from witnesses. They may reinforce one another or they may conflict. It is important to resolve these conflicts or contradictions.

21

What general conditions should you observe upon arrival?

1. Persons or vehicles leaving the scene.
2. Color, density and location of smoke and flame.
3. Size, direction and speed of flame travel.
4. Location and intensity of separate fires.
5. Distinguishable odors.
6. Signs of prior efforts to extinguish.
7. Difficulties encountered during extinguishment.

22

What condition of building openings should be observed upon arrival?

1. Doors and windows locked?
2. Location of area of forced entry prior to arrival. Evidence of vandalism or burglary?
3. Location of areas of forced entry by the department and by whom?

23

What observations of occupants, owners and bystanders should be made at a fire ground?

1. Dress, mental attitude, conduct and behavior, etc.
2. Familiar faces observed at fire
scene.
3. How are occupants made aware of the fire?
4. Who discovered the fire?
5. Initial area of discovery and what was involved in fire.
6. Unusual noises or odors observed by occupants prior to fire discovery.
7. Suspicious persons in the property prior to fire.

24

What condition of building contents or equipment should be observed on fire ground?

1. Personal articles or furniture removed or out of place.
2. Stock or equipment missing or replaced.
3. Condition of drawers, closets, safes, doors.
4. Tampering with fire detection or extinguishing systems.
5. Unusual openings in partitions, floors or ceilings.
6. Tampering with appliances, electrical equipment.
7. Were the utilities operational?

25

What are other indicators of arson intent?

1. Separate fires/no connection.
2. Removal of personal property, i.e. personal effects removed prior to fire.
3. Accelerants, i.e. flammable liquids in unusual places. Gasoline in bedroom or living room.
4. Trailers, i.e. combustibles (paper, film, rags) placed to aid fire spread.
5. Plants, i.e. highly combustible items placed near trailers (cans of gas, chemicals, volumes of matches, etc.).

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