McKenzie, Michael A. Ethics in Fire Investigation, Continuation. Investigator's
Digest. National Fire & Arson Report. Vol 14, No. 1 (March 1996). p
Abstract: This article is a continuation of "Ethics in Fire
Investigation" that was originally printed in the National Fire &
Arson Report, Vol. 13, No.4.
The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) has developed
a Code of Ethics which it calls upon its members to follow on a daily basis.
Ethics five through ten are as follows:
I will avoid alliances with those whose goals are inconsistent with an
honest and unbiased investigation
I will make no claim to professional qualifications which I do not possess
I will share all publicity equally with my fellow investigators, whether
such publicity is favorable or unfavorable
I will be loyal to my superiors, to my subordinates and to the organization
I will bear in mind that I am a truth-seeker, not a case-maker; that
it is more important to protect the innocent than to convict the guilty
When considering these points from the perspective of an investigator's
day-to-day responsibilities, they can be expanded.
Not only are investigators expected to uphold the standards of their
organizations, but they should not associate professionally with anyone
who does not behave accordingly. Understand that you may one day need to
expose a colleague for improper actions.
Recognize that testimony, once given, is virtually written in stone.
Donít damage your credibility for the sake of looking good on the
stand or competing for credentials.
Understand why the ìwhole is always equal to the sum of its parts.î
No one member of an investigative team can be solely credited for an investigative
success or failure. Praise and blame are absorbed by the team as a whole.
Loyalty is highly desirable, but remember, honor comes before even loyalty.
Finally, investigators must always remember that their professional opinions
have the power to put someone in prison, to guarantee a cash settlement,
or to prevent a settlement from being awarded. With so much riding on the
results of the investigation, the discovery of truth should always be the
primary motivation. That and the fact that all fire scenes are "presumed
innocent until proven guilty."