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Fire investigation

Fire investigation is the analysis of fire-related incidents.  It is sometimes referred to as origin and cause investigation.

After firefighters extinguish a fire, an investigation is launched to determine the origin and cause of the fire or explosion.  Investigations of such incidents are done using a systematic approach and knowledge of basic fire science. For a fire to occur there must be fuel, oxygen and an ignition source, which must be in the proper proportions. There is a very definite science to investigating fires and experience really counts here.

Why fire investigations take place

Fire investigations are carried out for a number of reasons:

  • To support coroners’ inquiries and criminal cases
  • To inform fire prevention and community protection activities
  • To improve understanding of fire dynamics
  • For insurance and liability considerations

Thorough investigations provide lessons that may prevent similar events from occurring and thereby protecting lives and property.

Who is involved in an investigation

The investigation of fires involves professionals from a variety of disciplines:

  • Fire and Rescue Service investigators
  • Police and crime scene investigators
  • Forensic scientists 
  • Insurers 

Within Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, incident commanders can determine the cause of many fires. Where fires are more complicated, involve serious injury or criminal activity is suspected, specially trained fire investigators work alongside the other agencies to determine the cause of fire.

What happens at the fire scene

The fire scene must be carefully excavated and documented to locate the source of the fuel and possible ignition sources. Possible causes will be ruled in or out depending on the evidence presented by the fire scene; burn patterns, physical remains. We can even use trained dogs to sniff out accelerants.

Investigation findings

Findings of fire investigations are not routinely published or made public. We are not required to release them publicly or to media outlets. 

We will share findings with other agencies and property owners. 

How to request a fire investigation report

If you need to request a fire investigation report for a fire involving your property, or you are the appointed agent of the owner, email

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