NFPA 921 Sections 7-4.1, 7-4.2, and 7-4.3
[interFIRE VR Note: Tables and Figures have not been reproduced.]
7-4.1 Purpose of Interviews. The purpose of any interview is to
gather both useful and accurate information. Witnesses can provide such
information about the fire and explosion incident even if they were not
eyewitnesses to the incident.
7-4.2 Types of Interviews. Interviews can generally be categorized
into three different types. These include interviews with those you can
approach with an attitude of trust, interviews with those you should approach
with caution, and interviews with those you should approach with an attitude
7-4.3 Preparation for the Interview. The fire investigator should
be thoroughly prepared prior to conducting any type of interview, especially
if the investigator intends to solicit relevant and useful information.
The most important aspect of this preparation is a thorough understanding
of all facets of the investigation.
The fire investigator should also carefully plan the setting of the interview,
namely, when and where the interview will be held. Although the time that
the interview is conducted may be determined by a variety of factors, the
interview should generally be conducted as soon as possible after the fire
or explosion incident. A timely interview will ensure an accurate recollection
of the incident by the witness.
Whenever possible, the interview should be conducted after the examination
of the fire scene, although there are instances when this may be impractical.
The scene examination may serve as the basis for specific questions relating
to the incident. The environmental setting is an important consideration
for the effectiveness of the interview. The interview should be conducted
in a setting that is free of distractions.
The interviewer and the person being interviewed should be properly identified.
The interview should, therefore, begin with the proper identification of
the person conducting the interview. The date, time, and location of the
interview, as well as any witnesses to it, should be documented.
The person being interviewed should also be completely and positively
identified. Positive identification may include the person's full name,
date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license number, physical
description, home address, home telephone number, place of employment, business
address, business telephone number, or other information that may be deemed
pertinent to establish positive identification.
Lastly, the fire investigator should also establish a flexible plan or
outline for the interview.
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Taken from NFPA 921Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations
1998 Edition, copyright © National Fire Protection Association,
1998. This material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA
on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the standard in
Used by permission.