8 Things an Arsonist Should Know
1.) A fire investigator will be looking at your fire much closer than you think.
With the guidance of NFPA 921, fire investigators now conduct their investigations systematically which involves the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data, through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of a hypothesis.
2.) A fire investigator will find physical evidence that you’ve left behind.
Regardless of how thorough an arsonist may think he or she may be, evidence in one form or another is always left behind after an incendiary fire. Incendiary fire indicators, such as multiple fires, trailers (a deliberately introduced fuel or manipulation of existing fuel(s) used to aid the spread of fire from one room to the other), unusual fire loads and/or presence of ignitable liquids, to name a few, are frequently discovered after a fire.
3.) A fire investigator will find your fingerprints.
Most arsonists assume that fire destroys all fingerprints. You’re wrong. Today’s technology now allows the investigator the luxury of developing latent prints on various surfaces such as wood, plastics, leather, charred paper, human skin and even rubber gloves. Fingerprints are one of the best forms of physical evidence available to the investigator.
4.) A fire investigator will find your DNA.
DNA. What a wonderful thing. Whether it’s a discarded cigarette, a drop of sweat or a strand of hair in a baseball cap or glove, DNA is one of the best forms of evidence available to the fire investigator. If you’re an arsonist, you should probably invest in a fully encapsulated suit, which may be somewhat conspicuous if you’re trying to be covert about your crime.
5.) A fire investigator will look at you much closer than you think.
Once a fire scene has been thoroughly investigated and the physical evidence collected, other evidentiary factors are considered by the fire investigator such as your motive for setting a fire. Whether it is crime concealment, financial stress or over insurance an individual being considered as an arson suspect should expect a long list of “pointed” questions that you weren’t expecting.
6.) A fire investigator will talk to your friends and relatives.
Loose lips sink ships. A phrase coined from the days of World War II essentially means that if you have a big mouth and “blabber a lot”, it will get you in trouble sooner or later. There’s nothing better than going to those closest to you and getting the truth.
7.) A fire investigator will catch you in a lie.
As quoted by Mark Twain, “Always tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember what you said.” Every interview that I’ve ever conducted as a fire investigator always began with a lie. The advantage that any investigator has over anyone guilty of a crime is a pen and paper or a tape recorder. It’s difficult maybe impossible for someone to remember word for word a story based on lies. A story based on truth (most of the time) can be repeated over and over with confidence.
8.) A fire investigator will be qualified, prepared and convincing at trial.
Today’s fire investigator is held to a much higher standard than in the past. In order to qualify in court as a “fire expert” one must meet strict minimum standards set forth by the NFPA 1033 (National Fire Protection Association) “Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator”. According to this section a fire investigator shall employ all elements of the scientific method to a fire investigation and remain current with investigation methodology, fire protection technology and code requirements by attending workshops and seminars and/or through professional publications and journals. So before you decided to increase your insurance coverage on your business, house, car or boat, create the less than perfect alibi and fire up that “Bic”, think twice, because we’re watching you.
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