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Questions For Firefighters.

This is a suggested list of questions that investigators should ask firefighters about their observations and work at the fire scene.

1. What time was the alarm?

2. Were you the first to arrive? When did you arrive?

3. Who called in the alarm? Have you the tapes on the call?

4. When you first arrived, what color of smoke did you observe? Where did you first see open flame? What color was it? Did you hear any explosions? When?

What were the weather conditions on arrival? Wind direction? Velocity? Humidity?

5. Was there any incident of any kind that delayed you from getting to the fire scene as quickly as you normally would?

6. Did you see any familiar faces in the crowd? Was anyone being overly helpful to you?

7. Did you notice on route any vehicles "leaving" the scene? Most people are attracted to fires and would be going to the scene as opposed to leaving it. If possible license plate numbers should be obtained. The point is you have to be alert well before arrival.

8. Did anyone in the crowd look "odd" in terms of his/her physical appearance? Was anyone wearing unusual clothing? Did anyone in the crowd simply not "fit" for the time and place of the fire?

9. Do you have any history of previous fires at this location? Is there a previous history of the same owner having other fires?

10. Did you note whether any doors or windows or any other building openings had signs of "forced entry?" Did you note the quality and type of door locking system? i.e. deadbolts? How did you gain entry to the building? Axe / crowbar / hydraulic tool?

11. Did you take any evidence from the scene? Where is it now? Was there continuity of evidence?

12. Did you observe any multiple points of origin for the fire? How rapid was the fire spread? Were there changes in the color of flames and/or smoke during the course of fighting the fire?

13. Was the building equipped with a burglar alarm? Was it operational on your arrival? Was there an outside alarm sounding on arrival? Is it a "monitored system?" Did the alarm company receive a signal? Did they call the police? Did they call the owner? Was he home?

14. Was the building sprinklered? Was the system operational? Is it a "monitored system?" Did the alarm company receive an alert on the fire? When was the system last inspected? Who had knowledge and access to the valves controlling the system?

15. Was an entry attack done? Who? When? Observations?

16. Any unusual odors at the fire scene? Did you smell anything like gasoline, turpentine varsol, etc.?

17. Did you interview or speak to any bystanders or witnesses at the fire scene?

18. How long did it take you to get the fire under control? What was the length of burn time? Did it vary in different sections of the building? Did you have to use an unusual amount of water to extinguish the fire? Did the fire intensify when water was applied?

19. Were you present when the owner arrived at the scene? What were your observations of him/her? Did the persons clothing match in with what you are being told? Was he saying he was asleep, yet he presents himself neatly dressed / hair combed, etc.?

Did he speak to any bystander? Did you ask him any questions? What did he say? Did you record this discussion in your notes?

20. Did you talk to any neighbors? Who? What was said? Had they noted anything or anyone unusual? Did you take notes of this discussion?

21. When you entered the premises, did you notice anything out of place that might suggest a break-in? Did all the contents seem in the right place?

Did you notice whether there were any unusual covers over windows such as blankets or sheets? Was there any attempt to hide the origin area from street observations?

22. Did you inspect the electrical panel? Circuit breakers? Fuses? Anything unusual?

23. Did you take any photographs during or after the fire?

24. Was there anyone taking videotape or photographs of the fire when it was in progress? Who?

25. Did you note any unusual vehicles in the vicinity of the fire scene? Did you record any plate numbers?

26. Where was the lowest and heaviest point of burning you observed in the premises?

27. Did you do any overhaul of the premises?

28. Was a fire watch posted? Who? When did the fire investigators arrive at the scene? Had the owner entered the building before the fire investigator arrived?

29. Did you take note of any flammable liquids present in the building? Were the containers stored in the appropriate place?

30. Were there any "for sale" signs up on the property?

31. Has your department done an inspection of this building before this fire? Were any orders or recommendations given to comply?

32. Can you outline the methods you used to fight the fire? Were any tactical command decisions made that might have affected the length of the fire burning in certain portions of the building? Did the fire flash when water was introduced?

33. Did you notice whether or not the window openings were covered up at all to prevent someone from looking in street level into the building?

 
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