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Catching Killers. FIRE INVESTIGATION. Catching Killers. FIRE INVESTIGATION. Used to be the ideal way for a criminal to make evidence go up in smoke Arson Investigation Unit N ew techniques & modern science VS fire pattern myths & personal judgment By exploring What makes fire

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Catching killers

Catching Killers


Catching Killers


Used to be the ideal way for a criminal to make evidence go up in smoke

Arson Investigation Unit

New techniques & modern science VS fire pattern myths & personal judgment

By exploring

What makes fire

Reaction with different chemicals and solutions

Advancements in the field

Importance to Law

First Responders to a Fire

Case Studies

Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Fire research lab Used to solve arson cases Planned test fires and cutting edge technology

Get the boring stuff out of the way
Get the boring stuff out of the way…

  • Book Questions

    Chapter 24: Basic Fire & Explosion Investigation

House fire homicide
House Fire Homicide

In 2007, a house fire kills a middle aged couple, but leaves their teenage son nearly unscathed.

  • Do you think the suspect should have been charged with arson and murder? Why?

+ + = Fire













The air we breathe is about _________.

Fire requires an atmosphere with at least _____________.

Fire investigation terms
Fire Investigation Terms

  • Fire –

  • – Shows the three elements needed to produce and sustain a fire.

  • Flash Point – The ___________temperature to which a substance must be heated in order for the substance to give off ________which will burn when exposed to a flame or ignition source.

  • Point of Origin–

  • Burn patterns–

  • Accelerants– Substances, such as gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol…

  • Arson – A fire started deliberately.

Obvious problems
Obvious Problems…

Successful Arson Investigation…

Common reasons for arson crimes
Common Reasons for Arson Crimes

  • Covering their tracks:

  • Insurance fraud: Monetary Gain

  • Psychological reasons: Mentally Disturbed

  • Revenge: Malicious Vandalism

  • Suicide or murder:

  • Terrorism:

Fire investigation remember what should the first person to a crime scene do
Fire Investigation:Remember??What should the first person to a crime scene do?

  • How First Responder's Impact The Fire Investigation

  • Write down what they take note of when they arrive at the scene

Fire Investigation Basics: Time is the enemy: Many of the volatile substances that cause or accelerate a fire rapidly dissipate

Fire clues
Fire Clues

  • Point of Origin –

  • Char Patterns– Created by very hot fires that burn very quickly and move fast along its path, so that there can be sharp lines between what is burned and what isn't.

  • V-Patterns- Fire burns up, in a V-shaped pattern, so a fire that starts at an outlet against a wall leaves a char pattern that points to the origin.

  • Heat Shadows

  • Glass- Glass fragments, windows, and light bulbs can provide clues to a fire.

    • Light bulbs tend to melt toward the heat source, so the "direction of melt" can indicate the direction of the fire.

    • The shattered or cracked glass of the windows can provide indications as to how a fire burned.

    • A dark soot layer on the glass could indicate a slow, smoldering fire.

    • Clear glass with an abnormal pattern of cracking could imply a very hot fire, possibly due to an accelerant.

  • Chimney Effect–

  • Color of smoke – Determine what type material was burning 

  • Color of flames– Indicates at what temperature the fire was burning.

Accident or arson

Image: Havana Rural Fire Department

Accident or Arson?

  • Accidental Nature

    • Heating System

    • Electrical appliances

    • Lightning

    • Children playing with matches

    • Smoking

  • Non-Accident

    • Odors – Gas, kerosene, or other accelerants

    • Furnishing – Removal of personal objects and valuables

    • Clothing – Check debris for buttons, zippers, etc

    • Locked windows, blocked doors

    • Two or more points of origin

    • Look for inverted v-patterns (can be a sign that an accelerant was used)

    • Floors charred –Can indicate use of an accelerant

    • Trailers that lead the fire from one place to another

Arson Facts in America

According to the FBI Crime Index, juvenile and adult arson cause an annual average of 560,000 fires, 750 deaths, 3,700 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property loss. 55% of all arson arrests in the US are children under 18.

Juvenile Firesetting

Fires set by juveniles are usually the result of a child or teenager experimenting with fire with a lack of understanding of the consequences. Others fires may be started by troubled children as a “cry for help” or as acts of vandalism.

These tragic events are not isolated incidents. In a typical year, in the U. S., 300 people are killed and $190 million in property is destroyed in fires set by children. Children themselves are usually the victims of these fires accounting for 85 of every 100 lives lost.

Investigating homicidal fires can structural fires destroy a body
Investigating Homicidal Fires:Can structural fires destroy a body?

Investigating Homicidal Fires