FIRE SCENE SECURITY

  1. Is scene security an important issue at all fires? If so, why?

Yes. Fire scene security is an important issue in the event of all fires. The most important aspect of evidence collection and is protecting the crime scene. This is to keep the pertinent evidence uncontaminated until it can be collected and recorded. What are some methods to document a fire scene?

U.S Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs (June 2000). Fire and Arson Scene Evidence: A Guide for Public Safety Personnel. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181584.pdf>

  1. What are some methods to document a fire scene?

The major methods used in the documentation of fire scenes are:

ü  Videotapes.

ü  Investigative reports

ü  Photographs

ü  Sketches/ Diagrams

ü  Notes

Coffee Break Training – Fire Investigation Series (April 8, 2013). Fire/ Arson and Explosion Investigation Curriculum: Fire Scene Documentation. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/coffee-break/fi/fi_2013_1.pdf>

  1. Which is the most often used?

The use of photographs is the most commonly used method of fire scene documentation. This is because it captures first hand events as they occur, thus providing credible information in the case of prosecution.

Coffee Break Training – Fire Investigation Series (April 8, 2013). Fire/ Arson and Explosion Investigation Curriculum: Fire Scene Documentation. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/coffee-break/fi/fi_2013_1.pdf>

  1. List at least three legal ways to enter a fire scene.

Access to a fire site and scene access are important considerations in preventing scene contamination and safety issues. The entity having control is responsible for security and access. Before entering a fire scene, some legal issues are considered:

ü  The owner of the burning property should be consulted because there may be issues with proprietary information and valuable equipment remaining at the site.

ü  Often a sign-in sheet for entry and departure is used to account for those accessing the site.

ü  Confirmation of their exit is important to ensure that all are out at the end of the day.

U.S Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs (June 2000). Fire and Arson Scene Evidence: A Guide for Public Safety Personnel. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181584.pdf>

  1. Can a private investigator, representing an insurance company, be denied access to a policyholder’s home after a fire? If so, what is the insurance company’s recourse?

A private investigator representing an insurance company cannot be denied access to a policyholder’s home after a fire. An insurance company investigator is mandated to enter a fire scene as provided by a contract in which the company and the insured are signatories. Otherwise, the company would seek a reprieve from an industrial court.

U.S Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs (June 2000). Fire and Arson Scene Evidence: A Guide for Public Safety Personnel. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181584.pdf>

  1. Do I get my money? Did I get away with the perfect crime? Is there anything the insurance company can do?

Yes. The insured will get his/ her money. The insured got away with the perfect crime. This is because the cause of the fire had already been determined to be an electrical fault. However, the insurance company can challenge that outcome in an industrial court to get a warrant to enter to enter the scene and conduct further investigations.

U.S Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs (June 2000). Fire and Arson Scene Evidence: A Guide for Public Safety Personnel. Accessed January 10, 2014 from <https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181584.pdf>

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