One of the most important job components for any fire investigator is the collection of information. There are several types of information that should be collected when investigating a fire, and there are various techniques that can be used to do so.
The first form of data collection we will cover are interviews. Interviews may occur at the scene of a fire with a public investigator, and will likely happen again with a private fire investigator at a later time. Examples of individuals who may be interviewed include property owners, tenants, occupants, neighbors, the occasional person passing by, cleaning service personnel, security guards, etc. Any of these individuals may be able to provide valuable information that could be lost had they not been interviewed. It is possible they may have seen, heard, smelled or felt something that is critical to the case without even realizing its significance.
It is important for a fire investigator to be a good listener. Let people tell their story. Weather an interview is conducted with formulated questions or through a simple conversation, the fire investigator will gain more useful data if the interviewee is given the opportunity to think through what they witnessed and communicate about that in detail to the fire investigator. The data collected through these interviews can be incorporated into a time-line of events that will serve as an important investigative tool.
Stay tuned…up next, we will cover the topic of written witness statements.
Series 2, post 2