Fire and Explosion Investigations
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When a fire occurs, by its very nature, it has catastrophic results for all concerned. Government figures have shown that of all businesses that suffer a significant fire, 78% do not reopen the affected premises, or cease trading entirely.
Insurance policies pay out for loss of business, stock and staff salaries, but they don't cover businesses against loss of faith with customers, who will likely take their business elsewhere to ensure meeting their own deadlines, and the policies certainly don't allow for the huge trauma that fire victims suffer. Losing the work of a life time, or even several generations can be devastating.
The UK Fire Service will normally carry out a fire investigation, dependant on resources, and if they feel the circumstances warrant. This investigation is solely to determine the cause and reason for fire development. The 'who and why' related to a fire is the sole remit of the Police, within their own constraints. This does not always provide answers to all the questions that may arise.
What is a fire investigation?
A fire investigation is an intensive study of a fire, and its effects, and is carried out to determine the origin, cause and development of a fire. Fire investigations may be carried out to assess responsibility, both from a criminal and civil perspective. The 'origin' is the point, location or area where a fire is believed to have started. Generally, the fire origin is determined before identifying a cause. There are likely to be many potential causes within the affected building or vehicle, but only those causes located in the area of origin would need to be investigated. The 'cause' relates to the circumstances which bring together the necessary elements for a fire to start and propagate. Generally there are four probable causes of fire:
The reasons why such factors and elements happened to be brought together, causing a fire, need to be evaluated when determining responsibility.
Explosion investigations involve the systematic determination of the cause for an explosion. For an explosion to occur there must be fuel, oxygen and an ignition source, and they must be in the proper proportions. There is a very definite science to investigating explosions and experience really counts here. The site of the explosion must be carefully documented and excavated to locate the source of the fuel and possible ignition sources.
In the case of very significant fires corporate bodies will appoint a private fire investigation team as part of a joint investigation with the Police, Fire and Insurance bodies, to ensure all possible areas of the investigation are covered, and to protect the corporate body's interests, and to provide continuous feedback.
Quality of reporting
Fire investigations, by their very nature involve extensive and intensive involvement by investigators to ensure all possible avenues of enquiry are fully covered. The reports we provide, as a result of our investigations, are comprehensive and are admissible for evidential purposes. Our investigators will, and do, attend Court when required, supporting the reports we provide. In both criminal and civil cases, the significant and practical experience of our personnel, in most fire-related cases, can make a significant contribution.
We will conduct a full and thorough investigation, of any fires involving buildings, vehicles or vessels to establish the origin and cause of the fire and the reason for fire development. We will highlight any significant contributory factors including possible breaches of Regulations.
Why use us?
DDS (International) Limited have been involved in carrying out fire investigation work for several reasons:
- to assist within joint investigations
- carrying out scene examinations
- reviewing 'cold case' documentation to assist defence or prosecution teams in civil and criminal cases
- underpin fire risk assessments that had been carried out on premises that had experienced a fire, to determine any system or management failures
- reviewing fire risk assessments
We have a team of experienced, qualified fire investigators who undertake investigations and 'cold case' reviews of investigation documentation to support defence or prosecution cases, as well as operating in the field at fire sites.
These investigators are members of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), and, Registered Forensic Practitioners (CRFP), and Members of the Forensic Science Society (MFSSoc). Some have achieved the BTEC NVQ level 5 certificate in Professional Investigative Practices, and have attended the Gardiner Associates Internationally renowned fire investigation training courses. Personnel undertake Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training to ensure the necessary skills are maintained. Our personnel have many years experience serving in Local Authority Fire and Police Services in the UK and will ensure full liaison is achieved with the relevant Local Authorities.
The investigations we carry out are full and comprehensive. We will provide advice, full written reports and court testimony in fire-related criminal and civil matters. We also review documentation and transcripts of "cold cases".
Case Study 1
A fire occurred in a residential house in the east of the Country in which young children had lost their lives. One of DDS (International) Limited investigators was appointed by the County Court to review the investigation details from both the Police and Fire Service to determine if the investigation had been open and unbiased against the individual to whom the blame had been apportioned. This investigator gave evidence to the Court in a Civil hearing.
Case Study 2
A fire occurred in a Residential Care Home in the South in which a resident was killed. DDS (International) Limited were appointed by the Local Council to carry out an investigation to run in parallel with the Fire and Police Service investigations to determine if there had been any failings or lapses in their systems, and to identify any management changes necessary for the many other Council run Care homes to minimise the risk of further outbreaks of fire, and to ensure the safety of residents.
Contact us online or call us on 0844 372 7300, for assistance in this field.