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McKenzie, Michael A. Ethics in Fire Investigation, Continuation. Investigator's Digest. National Fire & Arson Report. Vol 14, No. 1 (March 1996). p 6-8.

Abstract: This article is a continuation of "Ethics in Fire Investigation" that was originally printed in the National Fire & Arson Report, Vol. 13, No.4.

The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) has developed a Code of Ethics which it calls upon its members to follow on a daily basis. Ethics five through ten are as follows:

I will avoid alliances with those whose goals are inconsistent with an honest and unbiased investigation

I will make no claim to professional qualifications which I do not possess

I will share all publicity equally with my fellow investigators, whether such publicity is favorable or unfavorable

I will be loyal to my superiors, to my subordinates and to the organization I represent

I will bear in mind that I am a truth-seeker, not a case-maker; that it is more important to protect the innocent than to convict the guilty

When considering these points from the perspective of an investigator's day-to-day responsibilities, they can be expanded.

Not only are investigators expected to uphold the standards of their organizations, but they should not associate professionally with anyone who does not behave accordingly. Understand that you may one day need to expose a colleague for improper actions.

Recognize that testimony, once given, is virtually written in stone. Donít damage your credibility for the sake of looking good on the stand or competing for credentials.

Understand why the ìwhole is always equal to the sum of its parts.î No one member of an investigative team can be solely credited for an investigative success or failure. Praise and blame are absorbed by the team as a whole.

Loyalty is highly desirable, but remember, honor comes before even loyalty.

Finally, investigators must always remember that their professional opinions have the power to put someone in prison, to guarantee a cash settlement, or to prevent a settlement from being awarded. With so much riding on the results of the investigation, the discovery of truth should always be the primary motivation. That and the fact that all fire scenes are "presumed innocent until proven guilty."

 
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