1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Flanders, NJ

    Default Fire Investigators Working Alone

    The shooting of brother investigator Donald Cox, CFD OFI, brings to the forefront an issue that most fire investigators recognize as one of our biggest hazards-working alone. Experienced fire investigators know that a post fire scene examination has many, many factors that can cause injury or death. We need to be acutely aware of one important fact-fire investigation is not an emergency. We have all the time in the world to secure the scene. Remember, the number one way to ensure a safe workplace is to control the hazards. Not working alone is one area that is directly under our control.

    Not working alone does not mean that you have to have two investigators at every scene. NFPA 921 Sec. 12.1.1 speaks directly to this point. Among the recommendations:

    1. An investitgator should not work alone at the scene.
    2. Other persons should be present in order to provide assistance in the event of a physical threat to the investigator.
    3. If the investigator is presented with a situation where working alone is required, a clear line of communications with a responsible off site contact should be maintained.
    4. An investigative plan with the exact location of the investigation and the anticipated start and end times should be left with this party. Regular contact between these two parties should be maintained.
    5. The off-site contact should know who and when to call in the event contact with the investigator is lost.

    Options for the public sector investigator include; maintaing a FD presence at the scene until the scene exam is complete, a task force approach involving FD, PD and crime scene personnel, or a regular check by the first due company or area patrol.

    Options for the private sector investigator include; conducting the invest. with an adjuster or SIU investigator present, having a restoration or demo crew on site, hiring private security or working the investigation in conjunction with a public sector investigator/

    The objective is to go home in substantially the same condition as you arrived for work. I used to keep photos of my kids tucked into the trim directly above the drivers door of my duty vehicle so that they were the last thing I saw before I got out. It works.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Teams of Two

    I posted something similar to this yesterday but it never appeared. It s*cks to be the new guy on the forums.

    I am an arson investigator in a town of 1.25 million. We are in pairs on nights, which lasts until 2 am. After that, the investigator on call, until 7 am, is by himself. He can request another investigator if he needs the help, asks a patrol officer to hang out, or has the fire crew standby (which is the minimum). The only problem with patrol is if their district partner calls for "officer needs assistance", there is a robbery in progress or some chase close, then your patrol officer will most likely leave, which I don't necessarily fault them on. To get to two guys on nights, it took a lot of fight from us and the union after we were told by our previous capt. that we didn't need two because that might create OT when one investigator is off.

    As far as CFD, those guys aren't even armed, so it's even less reasonable that you could even the fight with ol' Betsy even though you are solo. I know their phrase was something like "150 years unimpeded by progress" but I think that relates to the fire service as a whole. It's a shame we have to be reactive instead of proactive. With the minds we have in the fire service, this could EASILY be the best run profession in the world. But until then, we will post on forums.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    i am still confused about why they would work alone in the first place why wouldnt the fd or pd be on location for safety reasons

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