Preliminary Investigation of Fires

NFPA 1730 addresses the staffing needs and personnel requirements for fire prevention organizations conducting fire investigations.  This standard places a large emphasis on utilizing the responding units and company officer as a resource to conduct the preliminary investigation.  If a more in-depth investigation is needed or a crime has been committed then personnel assigned with this specific task can then be called.

NFPA 1730 refers the reader to the qualifications of NFPA 1021, Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications which outlines the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for a company officer to conduct preliminary investigations for origin and cause.
  • Knowledge of arson methods, fire causes, fire behavior, and documentation of investigative procedures.
  • Know when to delay overhaul operations.
  • Ability to properly secure an incident scene.
  • Ability to recognize and protect potential evidence from damage and destruction.
With stretched budgets and minimal staffing, it may be best for departments to train and equip company officers (and even lower ranks) to conduct these investigations. Below are some resources that you may want to consider as you develop a department training program.

RESOURCES - Free on-line investigation training
Incendiary: The Willingham Case - video/documentary