Our team of specialist fire investigators is trained to carry out detailed searches at the scene of a fire to find clues that will help them to piece together the cause of the blaze.
These clues could include fragments of glass, charred remains, electrical wiring and solvents. Together they build up a picture of:
- what the premises were like before the fire.
- what could have happened in the moments leading up to ignition.
- precisely where the fire started.
- how the fire spread within the building.
Formal investigation is not necessary at every incident we are called to. If the cause is obvious and not believed to be suspicious, eg a pan of hot oil left unattended on the cooker which has over-heated and exploded, then firefighters at the scene will be able to determine the cause before they leave.
However, the skills of our specialist fire investigators are needed at:
- all fatal or serious injury fires.
- incidents which the Police ask us to attend.
- the scene of a deliberate fire (arson), where the cause is not immediately apparent to the officer-in-charge.
- fires involving five or more fire engines.
- incidents where we are called back to a fire scene which we have only recently left.
- incidents where the officer-in-charge is unable to determine the cause.
- fires of special interest.
The information gleaned from a fire scene is used to:
- Establish the most likely cause of fire and identify trends or defects, acts or omission that led to ignition.
- Determine the reasons why the fire and smoke developed and spread.
- Work alongside police officers and crime scene investigators to establish arson and help bring offenders before the courts.
- Assess the performance of building and furnishing materials in real fire situations.
- Validate the effectiveness of fire safety measures.
- Provide accurate information for use by the Service and other authorities when targeting community safety resources and activities.
Regional fire investigation dog
Some incidents require the support of the East Midlands fire investigation dog.
Freckle the spaniel is specially trained to detect chemicals which may have been used to start a fire. He is accompanied by his handler and trainer Dave Coss, and Freckle already has an impressive track-record of being able to find valuable evidence which is later used in court.
This service is hosted by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service on behalf of all five fire and rescue services in the region.