interFIRE Home interFIRE Home interFIRE VR Support Training Calendar Training Center Resource Center Message Board Insurance Info
 

Suggested Contents for the Investigative Toolkit

compiled for interFIRE VR by Debra Hemmerling from "Management for Arson Prevention and Control," US Fire Administration, National Fire Academy, "Fire Service Orientation and Terminology" from the International Fire Service Training Association, Kirk's Fire Investigation by John D. DeHaan, and NFPA 921.

Basic Guidelines

Safety Equipment

Excavation Tools

Evidence Collection Tools

Documentation Tools


Every fire investigator charged with performing origin and cause examinations should have (or have ready access to) a basic equipment kit.

  • A fire investigator's tools must never be coated with any type of rust preventative.
  • Each tool that comes into direct contact with suspected accelerant evidence samples (such as a chisel, utility knife or other cutting tool) must be properly cleaned before it can be used in sampling procedures.
  • Cutting surface(s) of tools should be cleansed with isopropyl alcohol and clean paper wipes then immediately flushed with a strong stream of fresh water.
  • Certain tools cannot be adequately cleaned and reused once they are contaminated with an accelerant such as gasoline. Brooms, paint brushes, firefighter gloves are several examples.
  • Using steel tools enables effective cleaning and hence minimizes the opportunity for cross contamination.
  • Always seal steel evidence containers when they are delivered from the supplier.
  • Open these containers at the sampling site only.
  • Load evidence samples correctly and reseal containers immediately.
  • Never place open steel evidence containers in the rear of your car.
  • Always use appropriate safety gear (especially safety glasses and helmet).

What follows is a comprehensive list of tools compiled from a variety of published sources. It should not be construed as a "must have" list, but as a starting point for fire investigators to use to determine their own needs. The determination of the toolkit contents is the responsibility of the investigator and is determined by his/her requirements, local standards and needs, and investigative preferences.

Safety Equipment

  • Ballistic vest
  • Brush firefighting coat
  • Brush firefighting pants
  • Chemical splash protective overalls
  • Coveralls
  • Dust mask(s)
  • Filter mask respirator
  • Eye protection - Goggles/safety glasses
  • Firefighter's boots, steel toe/shank safety
  • Firefighter's turnout coat
  • Firefighter's turnout pants
  • Flashlight
  • Gloves
  • Helmet or hard hat
  • Law enforcement equipment
    • Handcuffs/case
    • Handgun, holster, ammunition
    • Gun cleaning kit
  • Nomex/PBI hood
  • Respiratory protection (type depending on exposure)
  • Respirator filters, organic/ vapor/acid gas/ HEPA
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus
  • Spare SCBA bottle(s)
  • Suspenders

Excavation

  • Broom
  • Bucket
  • Chisels
    • Cold chisels
    • Wood chisels
  • Communications equipment
    • Cellular telephone
    • Facsimile machine (cellular, office)
    • Pager
    • Radio
    • Telephone
    • Portable computer w/ modem
    • Portable radio
    • Public address system
  • Crowbar/prybar
  • Cutter(s), cutting tools
    • Bolt cutters
    • Carpet cutters
    • Pen knife
    • Pipe cutters
    • Pocket knife
    • Razor blades
    • Tin snips
    • Utility knife (extra blades)
  • Drill with wood and metal bits
  • Electrician's tools
    • Circuit continuity tester
    • Electrical tape
    • Fuse puller
    • Ground fault/phase tester
    • Volt/Ohm/amp meter
    • Wire cutters
    • Wire gauge
    • Wire stripper
  • Flat-head shovel
  • Hammers
    • Ballpeen
    • Claw
    • Sledge
  • Hand axe/hatchet
  • Heavy-duty street broom
  • Hoe
  • Level (torpedo and bar)
  • Long-handle squeegee
  • Mason or brick trowel
  • Pinch bars (12 inch)
  • Rake
  • Saws
    • Crosscut
    • Hack (with extra blades)
    • Keyhole
    • Scroll
  • Screwdriver (assorted sizes)
    • Bit driver with assorted bits
    • Phillips head
    • Straight blade
    • Screws, nails, tacks, staples
  • Steel box (to hold tools, at least 18 inches by 9 inches with tray is recommended)
  • Steel-tine garden rake
  • Vehicle Equipment
    • AC/DC charger
    • First aid kit
    • Flood lights
    • Fuses/light sticks
    • Jumper cables
    • Mobile radio
    • Portable fire extinguisher
    • Public address system
    • Reflective markers
    • Siren
  • Wrenches
    • Adjustable
    • Open-end or box
    • Pipe

Evidence Collection

  • Sample Collection:
    • Activated charcoal
    • Blotter strips
    • Broom
    • Brushes
    • Chisels
    • Cotton tipped swabs
    • Cotton baby diapers, clean, unused
    • Dental tools
    • Disposable sterile pipets w/ suction bulbs
    • Disposable gloves (latex)
    • Disposable syringes
    • Dust pans
    • Eye dropper
    • Forceps
    • Handsaws (electric circular saw if possible)
    • Hand towel
    • Isopropyl alcohol with a supply of clean paper wipes (to permit on-site cleaning of blade tools)
    • Ladder
    • Modeling knife
    • Paint brushes
    • Paper towels/wiping cloths
    • Pipe wrench
    • Pliers
    • Lineman's
    • Side-cutting
    • Slip-lock
    • Vise-grip
    • Plumb bob
    • Putty knives/scraper
    • Pry bars
    • Scalpel
    • Sifting screens or sieve
    • Soap and hand cleaner
    • Styrofoam cups
    • Tongs
    • Tweezers
    • Water
  • Detection Equipment
    • Combustible gas/vapor detector
    • Hydrocarbon detector with supply of filters and spare hose and battery
    • pH paper
    • Thermometer, dry bulb
    • Thermometer, wet bulb
    • UV (black) light
    • Velometer
    • Voltmeter/ohmmeter
  • Measuring Equipment
    • 6-inch ruler
    • 12-inch ruler
    • Folding ruler
    • 6 to 12 foot tape measure
    • Steel tape measure (100 foot)
    • Optical tape measure (for exterior scenes)
    • Sturdy tire depth gauge tool (measuring depth of char)
    • Pencil magnet (to determine the type of metal examined)
  • Packing Materials
    • Cellophane tape
    • Clean metal paint cans
    • Clean glass jars with metal or bakelite, screw top lids, assorted sizes
    • Clean glass vials with screw top lids
    • Clean butcher paper (large sheets or roll)
    • Cotton swabs
    • Cotton wool
    • Evidence stickers, labels, and tape
    • Masking tape
    • Paper envelopes--various sizes (coin to 10 by 12-inch clasp-type)
    • Paper grocery bags(various sizes
    • Polyester or nylon bags(various sizes
    • Rope
    • Scene banner tape
    • Surgical gauze (pads best)
    • String
    • Twine
  • Impression casting (optional)
    • Plastic mixing bowls (large)
    • Kitchen strainer
    • Plastic kitchen spatulas
    • Metal or plastic strips (for edging mold area)
    • Supply of plaster (in sealed metal can)
    • Canning paraffin and small pan for melting
    • Silicon rubber casting medium (for tool impressions)

Documentation

  • Cardboard boxes, assorted sizes
  • Clipboard
  • Containers, packaging materials
  • Document protectors
  • Drawing equipment
    • Compass
    • Drafting templates
    • Pens, pencils, markers
    • Protractor
    • Scale
  • Evidence tape (tamper indicating)
  • Fingerprint kit
  • Glass jars w/ screw top lids, assorted sizes
  • Glass vials w/ screw top lids
  • Graph paper (drawing diagrams)
  • Lined paper - notebooks, writing tablets
  • Magnet
  • Magnetic compass
  • Magnifying glass
  • Pencil "scribe" for evidence marking on metal, plastic, or glass
  • Portable tape recorder
  • Portable illumination
    • Portable flood light and generators
    • Flashlights
    • Battery-powered fluorescent lights
    • High intensity movie lights for lighting large areas (short battery life)
  • Transparent tape
  • Vermiculite
  • Photographic and Video Equipment
    • Batteries
    • Camera - 35 mm automatic, 35 mm SLR
    • Film, extra
    • Flash
    • Flash attachment
    • Instant camera macro attachment
    • Lenses
      • 70 - 200 mm zoom
      • 28 - 70 mm zoom
      • 50 mm
    • Meter
    • Light motor winder
    • Photographic background
    • Photographic logs
    • Photographic ruler
    • Protective carrying cases
    • Tripod
    • Videotape boom microphone
    • Videotape lighting attachment
    • Videocassettes, blank, spare

 
Home | interFIRE VR Support | Training Calendar | Training Center | Resource Center | Message Board | Insurance Info
Sponsorship Opportunities
Web Site Designed for 800 x 600 by Stonehouse Media Incorporated® Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.