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33 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

The general location where the ignition source and the material first ignited actually came together for the first time

Area of origin

Exact physical location where the heat source and fuel come in contact with each other and a fire begins

Point of origin

The sequence of events that allow the ignition source and the material first ignited to come together

Fire cause

Crime of willfully, maliciously, and intentionally starting an incendiary fire or causing an explosion to destroy one's property or the property of another. Precise legal definitions vary among jurisdictions


Continuous changes of possession of physical evidence that must be established in court to admit such material into evidence. In order for physical evidence to be admissible in court, there must be an evidence log of accountability that documents each change of possession from the evidence's discovery until it is presented in court

Chain of custody

The apparent and obvious design of burned material and the burning path of travel from a point of fire origin

Fire pattern

Previously known as a burn pattern

Sufficient temperature and energy and be in contact with the fuel long enough to raise it to its ignition temperature

Competent Ignition Source

History of the fire, beginning when the ignition source and the first fuel ignited meet at the area of origin, and proceeding through the entire duration of fire spread through the scene

Ignition Sequence

Combustible material, such as rolled rags, blankets, newspapers, or flammable liquid, often used in intentionally set fires in order to spread fire from one area to other points or areas


Material or chemicals designed and used to start a fire

Incendiary Device

General term referring to anything that can taint physical evidence


Term that refers to evidence that is destroyed, damaged, altered, or otherwise not preserved by someone who has responsibility for the evidence


Chain of custody

A way to control evidence

Identify witnesses

Secure scene

Note initial scene

Critical to overall success

Determine point fire started, fire cause

Protect or collect evidence

Incident Commander or Fire/Criminal Investigator

From outside to least burnt then most burnt

Order to search for point of origin

Delay overhaul beyond locating, extinguishing fires

Protect scene

Establish scene security

Actions to take until point of origin can be determined

Cameras, tire or foot tracks, discarded containers

Items to document and preserve

May indicate intentionally set

Unintentional may give same appearance

Multiple areas of origin

Materials in fire's path

Building features, layout

Ventilation openings

Fire load

Fire suppression tactics

Activation of suppression systems

Factors affecting fire spread

Call investigator if there is a question

Be aware of general patterns

Stored materials




Ground cover or vegetation

Several different types of materials that may be involved in an exterior fires

Basic fire behavior

Effects of winds


Natural fuels on fire spread

Burns outward in all directions

Understanding of these concepts is required for ground cover fire investigation

Ensure undeployed air bags inoperable

Ensure shock absorber bumpers inoperable

Hybrid, electric car considerations

Don't cut posts that contain restraint systems

Know where large capacity or multiple fuel cells may exist

Hydraulic system considerations

Check truck area for flammable/combustibles

Safety guidelines for vehicle fires

Document causes of fire

Indicate trends in unsafe behavior

Indicate defective equipment, design flaws

Indicate malicious, illegal behavior

Things that determining fire cause can establish


The National Fire Incident Reporting System





Four types of fire cause classifications

Time of day

Weather, natural hazards

Manmade barriers

People leaving the scene

Information needed to provide if an incendiary or undetermined initial cause is indicated

Time of arrival and extent of fire

Wind direction and velocity

Doors or windows locked or unlocked

Location of fire

Containers or cans

Burglary tools

Familiar faces

Additional information that should also be gathered to assist investigators

Type of evidence provided by a witness who obtained it through his or her senses

Direct Evidence

Evidence presented in a trial that tends to prove a factual matter through inference by proving other events or circumstances

Circumstantial Evidence

Tangible or real objects that are related to the incident

Physical Evidence

Right of entry stating that the fire department does not require a warrant to enter a property to suppress a fire, or remain on the property for a reasonable amount of time afterward in order to determine the origin and cause of the fire

Exigent Circumstances