Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Methodology

Processing a Scene

Each scene is thoroughly documented through field notes and photographs and when needed, using video. Field sketches of the scene are drawn to show structural layout, location and juxiposition of contents and critical distances. Field sketches can be turned into high-quality diagrams using the latest computer software.

Physical evidence found at the scene which we document may include fire burn patterns, signs of electrical arcing, location, identification and distribution of property contents. When applicable, the evidence is secured and interested parties are notified prior to removal from the scene.

Any evidence collected is documented and secured prior to transport. The evidence is taken to our facility where it is logged into Evidence Tracker(TM) software and placed in a secure, climate-controlled storage. Strict chain-of-custody is maintained for all evidence.

Our facility includes two evidence examination areas. When warranted, fire debris samples are taken and placed into appropriate contains which are then sent to an independent forensic chemical and engineering laboratory to be analyzed for composition or the presence of ignitable liquids.

Scene Reconstruction

One of the tools in determining the origin and cause of a fire is the scene reconstruction. Scene reconstruction involves returning a room’s structural components, finishing and contents to their pre-fire positions. This is accomplished by careful analysis of the burn patterns and witness marks found in the room and on the items. Firefighting operations and overhaul result in a room’s contents and structural elements being moved from their pre-fire positions.

Oftentimes, contents end up outside of the structure. Scene reconstruction is facilitated by removing debris from the floors and when possible, washing the floor surface with water in order to better reveal burn patterns.

Arc Mapping

Another important tool in helping the investigator determine both the origin and spread of the fire is arc mapping. Arc Mapping involves tracing the wiring from its source and mapping the location of all failures or arc locations on the wires. The locations of the arcs on the wires of electrically energized circuits can indicate the progression of the fire and can help the investigator to more clearly define the area of origin.

Witness Statements

Property owners, tenants, personnel and other witnesses are interviewed in a courteous and objective manner. Statements made by witnesses to the fire are important in establishing a fire timeline and the fire’s progression. Fire department personnel who responded to the fire may also be interviewed. The techniques the fire department used to combat the fire as well as their overhaul of the fire scene can have profound effects on the evidence left at the scene. A fireman’s first-hand account of the fire’s involvement at the time of their arrival gives us important details. Neighborhood canvassing is also utilized. Our interviews are documented as well as other important evidence found at the scene.

Scientific Method

We rigorously use the scientific method in our inquiry and analysis of fire incident investigations. We believe that the use of the scientific method is crucial for an investigator’s opinion to stand up to challenges in a court of law.

To launch your investigation, call Neil Peters today at 314.744.4033, send a toll-free fax to 866.843.6620 or CLICK HERE to start your investigation online.