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White paper on post-fire analysis

Advisory panel recommends technical guidelines

The Fire Protection
Research Foundation
©Copyright February 2002

Quincy, MA, March 8, 2002-The Research Advisory Council on Post-Fire Analysis of NFPA's Fire Protection Research Foundation has issued a white paper on post-fire analysis in an effort to help improve the technical aspects of fire investigation. The paper, available at no cost from the Foundation, is the first in a series of recommendations that will be issued from several other advisory councils, each convened by the Foundation to examine one area of fire-related activity.

The paper, developed by an independent 14-member panel from industry, research, insurance, government, and the fire service, reviews the status of the techniques and knowledge base of post-fire investigations and presents recommendations addressing the research and development needs that the Council has identified. The Council's aim is to prompt industry, insurance groups and researchers to move forward on initiatives to improve the technical aspects of fire investigation and analysis.

Post-fire analysis comprises a wide range of activities, aiming to identify where and how a given fire or group of fires started and the factors contributing to fire loss. Traditionally, most post-fire analysis efforts have been focused on origin and cause with emphasis on civil and criminal litigation. The basis for identification of fire origin and cause has evolved mainly from practical knowledge rather than scientific research.

White paper on post-fire analysis now available from NFPA's Fire Protection Research Foundation
Page 2 of 2 .

"The fire investigation community has just begun to benefit from scientific validation that supports traditional interpretation of fire patterns," says Daniel Churchward, president of Kodiak Enterprises, Inc., chair of NFPA's Technical Committee on Fire Investigations, which develops NFPA 921, Guide to Fire and Explosion Investigation, and a member of the Council.

The Council identified five broad areas where progress is needed in post-fire analysis.
These are:

  1. origin and cause investigation methods,
  2. deaths, injuries, property losses and building costs,
  3. education, training and dissemination,
  4. environmental impacts of fire and fire protection, and
  5. business impacts. The white paper addresses impact, research/development and benefit to groups from advances in these categories

Research undertaken as a result of the white paper's recommendations could subsequently be incorporated into proposed new fire codes and standards or into the appendix of NFPA 921.

The white paper is available, in hard copy by contacting the Research Foundation at 617-984-7283.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation is an independent, public, nonprofit foundation, providing practical, usable data on fire risk and state-of-the-art fire safety methods. The foundation collaborates with laboratories throughout the world on projects that are overseen by broad-based technical committees.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Developer of the National Electrical Code®, the Life Safety Code®, and 300 other codes and standards through a full, open-consensus process, NFPA is currently developing NFPA 5000, Building Code, the first consensus-based building code. NFPA also produces educational curricula, including the Risk Watch® community-based injury prevention curriculum and the Learn Not to Burn® fire safety curriculum. NFPA headquarters is in Quincy, MA, USA. Visit NFPA's Web site at


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