Fire Investigation

What is Fire Investigation?

Fire investigation, sometimes referred to as origin and cause investigation, is the analysis of fire-related incidents. After firefighters extinguish a fire, an investigation is launched to determine the origin and cause of the fire or explosion. Investigations of such incidents are done using a systematic approach and knowledge of basic fire science.

Fire investigation is one of the most difficult of the forensic sciences to practice. In most forensic disciplines, even the basic question of whether a crime has been committed is normally obvious. During a fire investigation, an entire process must be undertaken just to determine if the case involves arson or not. The difficulty of determining whether an arson fire has occurred or not, arises because fires destroy evidence.
Fire Investigation Unit Vehicle
Diagram of the point of origin of a fire.

What Do Fire Investigators Do?

A fire investigator looks at what is left behind after a fire and obtains information to piece together the events that occurred in the moments leading up to the fire. Our investigators complete detailed reports, prepare cases for court, work collaboratively with partnering agencies such as Santa Rosa Police Department, Sonoma County Sheriff's Departments, and the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office.

Fire Investigators maintain membership with the Sonoma County Fire Investigation Task Force and the California Conference of Arson Investigators. These organizations provide networking and contacts that can help with conducting successful investigations.