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Date:      Mon, 8 Jan 2018 00:07:20 -0800 (PST)
From:      "Safety Consultants & Solutions Provider Limited" <>
Subject:   Forensic Fire Investigation
Message-ID:  <>

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Forensic Fire Investigation=20
This refers to the application of scientific methods & techniques to determ=
ine the origin and cause of fire once firefighters have extinguished the fi=
The practice is similar to the examination of crime scenes in that the scen=
e must be preserved and evidence collected and analyzed, but with numerous =
additional difficulties and dangers. The investigation will include closely=
 surveying the damaged scene to establish the origin of the fire and eventu=
ally establishing the cause.=20
However in order to effectively examine and evaluate a fire scene, it is im=
perative that the investigator has a detailed=C2=A0 knowledge of the chemis=
try and behavior of fire and its effects.=20

Understanding The Nature & Chemistry of Fire=20
Fire occurs due to the exothermic reaction of combustion (burning), produci=
ng heat and light. In order for a fire to occur, three vital components mus=
t be present: a fuel source, an oxidant (O 2 ) and a sufficient amount of e=
nergy in the form of heat. Together these make up the fire triangle. A four=
th factor can also be described =E2=80=93 a self-sustaining chemical chain =
reaction =E2=80=93 to produce the fire tetrahedron. The absence of any of t=
hese conditions will result in a fire not starting or extinguishing through=
 smothering (oxygen removal), cooling (heat removal) or starving (fuel remo=

Solid and liquid materials do not actually combust, but the process of heat=
ing causes them to produce vapors which can burn. This is the process of py=
rolysis. Through this pyrolysis products will be formed, flammable and vola=
tile substances of low molecular weight caused through the decomposition of=
 materials by fire.=20
Heat produced by a fire can spread in one of three ways; convection, conduc=
tion and radiation. Convection is the transfer of heat through air circulat=
ion, and only occurs in liquids and gases. An example of convection is the =
heat from a fire rising and heating the ceiling of a room. Conduction is th=
e transfer of heat through a medium by direct contact, such as a fire heati=
ng a metal beam which transfers the heat elsewhere. Radiation is the emissi=
on of heat as infrared radiation without a medium, such as a fire heating a=
nd igniting a nearby sofa.=20

Fire Investigation=20
The primary purposes of a fire investigation is to establish the origin (se=
at) of the fire, determine the likely cause, and thus conclude whether the =
incident was accidental, natural or deliberate. It is vital to establish th=
e cause to ensure similar events do not occur (in the case of natural or ac=
cidental) or to allow a legal investigation to be conducted (in the case of=
 deliberate fires).=20

The initial concern with regards to a fire incident scene is safety. Such a=
 scene has an increased risk factor with possible hazards including heated =
materials, structural collapse, damaged electricity and gas mains, debris, =
asbestos, dangerous combustion products and other toxic substances. A dynam=
ic risk assessment should be conducted, the scene must be declared safe and=
 all individuals entering the scene should wear appropriate protective clot=
hing such as hardhats, fire-resistant overalls, steel-capped boots, thick g=
loves and, in some cases, a face mask. Supplies of gas and electricity shou=
ld be switched off before the investigation begins.=20

Article by Peace Okorogu SCSP HSE Lead=20 READMORE

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