Ch. 18 Evidence
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Those resulting from unintentional acts or omissions (failures to act).
Things such as lightning, spontaneous heating, & friction between dehydrating logs on top of each other.
- Arson fires
- Leading cause of fire loss.
- Cause of 1 out of 8 fire deaths
With criminal intent
The three factors to the cause of fires
- Fuel that ignited
- Form & source of heat ignition
- Act or omission that helped to bring these two factors together
Chain of Custody
The continuous changes of possesion of physical "evidence" that must be established in court to admit such material into evidence.
What should FF's be able to recognize?
- Signs of area of origin
- Signs of arson
- Preserve signs of arson
- Protect evidence
- Locate fire's origin
- Recognize possible fire causes
- Protecting evidence
Point of Origin
The exact physical location where the heat source & fuel come into contact with each other and a fire begins.
In most cases who has the legal responsibilty for determing the cause of the fire?
The fire chief
Who is in the best position to observe signs of a potential arson fire?
The first-arriving firefighters
First arriving FF's should make mental notes of the following:
- Vehicles & people present
- Status of doors & windows
- Evidence of forced entry
- Contents of the room
- Indications of unusual fire behavior or more than one point of origin
Who may conduct arson investigations?
- Fire marshals
- Fire inspectors
- Other members of fire prevention bureau
- *Fire investigators are also sworn peace officers that can carry weapons & make arrests.
When does a FF begin gathering information?
When the alarm is received
Oberservations En Route
- Time of day: Normal behavior for time
- Weather & natural hazards: Should furnace be on?
- Barriers: Blocking streets, driveways, entrances
- People leaving the scence: Leaving in a hurry
Observations Upon Arrival
- Time of arrival & extent of fire
- Wind directions & velocity
- Doors or windows locked or unlocked
- Location of fire
- Containers or cans
- Burglary tools
- Familiar faces (from other fires)
Observations During Fire Fighting Operations
- Unusual odors
- Abnormal fire behavior with water: Flame splattering
- Obstacles hindering fire fighting
- Incendiary devices (Molitov Cocktails)
- Structural alterations
- Combustible material, such as rolled rags, blankets, newspapers, or flammable liquids.
- Used to spread fire from one area to another.
Material or chemicals designed & used to start a fire.
Observations During Fire Fighting Cont'd
- Fire patterns
- Heat intensity
- Availabilty of documents
- Fire detection & protections systems
- Intrusion alarms
- Location of fire
- Personal possessions
- Household items
- Business records
How is valuable information sometimes found on a fire scene?
By allowing owners or occupants to be allowed to talk freely.
Should FF's attempt to interrogate a potenial arson suspect?
Not unless they are trained to do so
What is a sufficient reply to questions regarding a fire?
" The fire is under investigation."
Who should FF's make their statement to?
The investigator only
Evidence presented by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else.
When members of a group discuss the events and come to a concensus about what happened.
Should hearsay be reported?
Yes, it should be reported to the investigator for validation.
What is a way to help preserve evidence?
Delaying overhaul operations
FF's should keep a log of anyone who enters the scence with the following information:
- Person's name
- Time of entry
- Time of departure
- Any items the person took
What should rope or tape used for cordoning off an area never be tied to?
A vehicle that may have to be moved
What case is responsible for FF's to obtain a search warrant once they leave a scene?
- Michigan vs. Tyler
- * If there is incendiary evidence at least one FF should remain at scene until an investigator arrives
When can evidence be disturbed at a scence?
When absolutely necassary for the extinguishment of a fire
What is a good way to preserve footprints?
By placing carboard over them.
Where is a good place to dump debris after an investigation?
On inexpensive tarps.
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