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ATF CFI* Fire Scene Examination Outline

Source: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

*Certified Fire Investigator

I. Initial Assessment

A. Location

1. Name
2. Address
3. Date & Time of Fire
4. Type of Fire Scene
5. Weather Conditions

B. Incident Command

1. Legal Entry

(a) Fire Service/Scene
(b) Consent to Search
(c) Search Warrant

2. Safety Considerations

(a) Hazards

(1) Structural
(2) Life Threatening Utilities (Electricity/Gas)
(3) Materials
(4) Others

3. Resource Considerations

(a) EPA
(b) Engineer/s
(c) Heavy Equipment
(d) Personnel

(1) Safety Equipment
(2) Comfort Equipment
(3) Tools

4. Victim Considerations

(a) Fatal

(1) Homicide
(2) Medical Examiner/Coroner

(b) Non-Fatal

5. Weather Conditions

6. Scene Security

(a) Establish Perimeter
(b) Evidence Protection

7. Initial Interviews

(a) Initial Caller
(b) First-In Firefighters

(1) Fire Suppression Tactics
(2) Ventilation

(c) Last Known Individual In Fire Scene
(d) Owner

(1) Consent to Search

II. Exterior/Interior Survey

A. Photography

1. Initial
2. Evidence
3. Follow-up

B. Ingress/Egress

1. Doors
2. Windows
3. Other

C. Electrical

1. External

(a) Pole
(b) Weatherhead
(c) Meter
(d) Service Panel

2. Internal

(a) Incoming Service Conductor
(b) Service Panel/s
(c) Downstream Conductors

D. Patterns

1. Least/Worst

E. Condition of Doors/Windows

F. Fire Load Inventory

G. Identify Accidental Fire Cause Possibilities

1. Electrical
2. Appliances
3. Open Flame
4. Smoldering Combustion
5. Spontaneous Combustion
6. Providential

H. Building Construction

1. Measurements
2. Directions (NESW)
3. Construction

(a) Combustible Materials
(b) Non-combustible Materials
(c) Fire Resistive Materials

4. Systems

(a) Alarms
(b) Detectors
(c) Sprinklers
(d) HVAC

III. Identify Area of Origin

A. Internal Electrical

1. Panel Boxes
2. Trace Wiring
3. Outlets/Receptacles
4. Appliances

B. Examine Non-Combustible Materials

C. Examine Combustible Materials

D. Patterns/Building Construction

E. Correlate Burn Patterns

F. Recognize False Patterns

1. Drop-down
2. Roll-over
3. Flash-over
4. Conduction
5. Convection
6. Radiation
7. Natural Ventilation
8. Fire Suppression Tactics

(a) Ventilation
(b) Tactics/Pushing Fire

9. Characteristics of Fuels
10. False Pour Patterns

G. Reconstruction

H. Point of Origin/Fire Scenario

IV. Evidence Collection

A. Chain of Custody

B. Collection Packaging

1. Cross Contamination
2. Proper Containers/Packaging

C. Preservation

D. Photography

E. Comparison Samples

Reprinted with permission.

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