Thread: Is Help Needed?

  1. #1
    EPFD-AL Guest

    Question Is Help Needed?

    "A Profile of Fire in the United States" 1987-1996 11th edition (USFA pub # FA-193/10-99) states that arson at 29% was the leading cause of all fires in 1996 and that arson at 19% was the second leading cause of fire deaths behind smoking (23%). The figures were based on approx. 900,000 NFIRs.

    Assuming those figures are true I really hate to say that I see very little about arson convictions on t.v. or in the newspapers.

    I'm NOT saying that investigators aren't doing their jobs! Please don't misunderstand that.

    What I am saying is what can we as the everyday "Joe and Jane Firefighter" do to help?

    For example; Are arson investigators being offered ample financial support and good budgets to do their work? Are there enough arson investigators out on the street? Do we as firefighters have to unite and have our voices heard to get better funding for investigators?

    Years ago I was told that arson scenes are often destroyed by well intentioned firefighters who did "too much overhaul - too fast" before the arson team could look. Is that a real problem? Is better basic arson training needed for first responders?

    I firmly believe that every firefighter wants to help stop arson and wants to see arsonists put away. What can we do to help?

  2. #2
    George Wendt, CFI Guest


    Very interesting post.

    There are two things that come to mind that would help bring the investigation to a succesful conclusion. First, is call for the investigator early in the job so that he can be there during overhaul. Overhaul is a very important part of the fire fighting process. If it is done thgouhtfully and properly, it will limit the fire damage and aid the investigation. I have investigated fires where the only thing the fire department didn't do was repaint the room. LEave the area of origin as you found it. Don't touch evidence or other items which may be iportant to the investigator, especially the electrical panel. If this is a problem in your department, ask the fire investigation unit to put on an in-service training class for your department. The benefits far outweigh the detriments.

    Secondly, if your jurisdiction is not addressing the arson issue properly, push for it as a department. You have seen first hand the destruction that a fire causes. Force your governmental leaders to hit the problem head on with properly trained investigators who respond in a timely fashion to the scene. Also insist that your prosecuting attorney's office send at least one lawyer to fire investigation school. It makes a world of difference.


  3. #3


    Two weekends ago, myself and my deputy fire chief participated in a basic fire investigation course set up by the Government of Alberta. The purpose of the course was two fold. One, to certify fire fighters and other municipal workers in safety codes. Second, to provide basic fire investigation training.

    The course was taught by two experienced fire investigators. They realy focused on what clues were available to find the fires origin and cause. They also demonstrated how clues could be lost from normal fire suppression activities. It was a real eye opener course.

    Like George said. If you could set up some type of similar course, you will be doing your investigator a huge favour.

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