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Fire investigation

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

The investigation of fires involves professionals from a variety of disciplines – Fire and Rescue Service investigators, police and crime scene investigators, forensic scientists and insurers are all involved.  The fire scene must be carefully excavated and documented to locate the source of the fuel and possible ignition sources.

Within Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service a specialised team of fire investigators work alongside the other agencies to determine the cause of fire.

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


Arson can be defined as the wilful or deliberate setting fire to another’s property.  Arson or malicious firing has to be investigated to assist the police in apprehending the perpetrators.  It is a complex and serious crime and carries a maximum punishment of a life sentence.  To tackle fire-related crime in our county, we have a dedicated team of experts who examine the causes of a fire and help to identify dangerous products and practices.  The fire investigators will attend any incident where it is suspected that a fire has been started maliciously.  They examine and record the scene, collecting evidence of any fire accelerators which may have been used to start or accelerate the fire.

Arson has a wide variety of causes, some of which:

  • Crime concealment
  • Revenge
  • Fraud
  • Mental illness

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