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NFPA 921 Sections 7-4.1, 7-4.2, and 7-4.3

[interFIRE VR Note: Tables and Figures have not been reproduced.]

7-4 Interviews.

7-4.1 Purpose of Interviews. The purpose of any interview is to gather both useful and accurate information. Witnesses can provide such information about the fire and explosion incident even if they were not eyewitnesses to the incident.

7-4.2 Types of Interviews. Interviews can generally be categorized into three different types. These include interviews with those you can approach with an attitude of trust, interviews with those you should approach with caution, and interviews with those you should approach with an attitude of distrust.

7-4.3 Preparation for the Interview. The fire investigator should be thoroughly prepared prior to conducting any type of interview, especially if the investigator intends to solicit relevant and useful information. The most important aspect of this preparation is a thorough understanding of all facets of the investigation.

The fire investigator should also carefully plan the setting of the interview, namely, when and where the interview will be held. Although the time that the interview is conducted may be determined by a variety of factors, the interview should generally be conducted as soon as possible after the fire or explosion incident. A timely interview will ensure an accurate recollection of the incident by the witness.

Whenever possible, the interview should be conducted after the examination of the fire scene, although there are instances when this may be impractical. The scene examination may serve as the basis for specific questions relating to the incident. The environmental setting is an important consideration for the effectiveness of the interview. The interview should be conducted in a setting that is free of distractions.

The interviewer and the person being interviewed should be properly identified. The interview should, therefore, begin with the proper identification of the person conducting the interview. The date, time, and location of the interview, as well as any witnesses to it, should be documented.

The person being interviewed should also be completely and positively identified. Positive identification may include the person's full name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license number, physical description, home address, home telephone number, place of employment, business address, business telephone number, or other information that may be deemed pertinent to establish positive identification.

Lastly, the fire investigator should also establish a flexible plan or outline for the interview.

For more information, contact:
The NFPA Library at (617) 984-7445 or e-mail

Taken from NFPA 921Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 1998 Edition, copyright © National Fire Protection Association, 1998. This material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.

Used by permission.

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