Fire Investigation

Martin Shipp, Technical Development Director, Fire Safety, BRE Global Limited

Workstream Chair

Martin Shipp, Technical Development Director, Fire Safety, BRE Global Limited

Tel: +44 (0)1923 664960  E-mail:  shippm@bre.co.uk

There are a number of different organisations or parties that are involved in any fire investigation or inquiry. Most fires will initially be investigated by fire and rescue service investigators. Where there has been loss of life or a crime suspected, the investigation will involve the police, scenes of crime officers (CSIs), forensic scientists and the Coroner or Procurator Fiscal (for fatal accident inquiries in Scotland). If insurance fraud is suspected, or if a major insurance claim is made, then the insurers, private investigators, specialist consultants and loss adjusters will be involved.

Because a fire will destroy its own evidence, there is frequently a need for conjecture and opinion, based on inadequate facts, and consequently there can often be disagreement between experts on what happened. Fire investigations by the fire and rescue service contribute to the overall knowledge base, but also provide the opportunity to inform the development and implementation of each service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), as well as the development of procedures, the use of equipment, community fire safety and education, fire safety approval and fire risk assessment approval.

Fire investigations are needed to identify those aspects of design and construction methods in new build that may lead to unusual or unexpected spread of fire, whilst also monitoring the performance of older property to identify areas that may indicate a need for amendments to procedures, guidance and/or codes for future build. The fire safety community needs to be able to respond to fire incidents of national importance. The objectives of the Workstream are to:

  • Look at issues and discuss approaches to fire investigation across different organisations.
  • Provide a (democratic, non-sectorial) forum for information exchange for all organisations with an interest in fire investigation
  • Provide a vehicle by which the fire investigation community can communicate with the wider fire community
  • Provide a vehicle by which findings from fire investigations can be fed back to the wider fire community
  • Provide a vehicle by which knowledge or findings from the wider fire community can be fed back to the fire investigations
  • Review the legal requirements and constraints that underpin fire investigation
  • Review the tools and methodologies of fire investigations
  • Review the quality of fire investigations and the competency of fire investigators; to review training, qualifications and CPD opportunities
  • Avoid duplication of effort or resources with existing organisations, in all of the above