SFS 210 : Fire Investigation

Transcript title

Fire Investigation



Grade mode

Standard letter grades

Contact hours total


Lecture hours



SFS 101; SFS 102; SFS 105; SFS 110; and SFS 112.

Prerequisites with concurrency

SFS 120.


Provides basic information in fire cause determination. Studies arson detection, protection of point of origin, fire indicators, motives and vehicle fire investigation. Field trips and classroom props aid the student in understanding the science of fire investigation.

Learning outcomes

1. Identify and explain the responsibilities of the fire department from a firefighter’s perspective when responding to the scene of a fire.
2. Define criminal law and explain the constitutional amendments as they apply to fire investigations. Identify key case law decisions that have affected fire investigations.
3. Define and explain the common terms used in fire investigations.
4. Describe the basic elements of fire dynamics and how they affect cause determination.
5. Analyze the relationship of building construction on fire investigations. Evaluate fire protection systems and building services. Be prepared to discuss how their installation affects the ignition of fires and their spread.
6. Describe fire scene investigations and the process of conducting investigations using the scientific method.
7. Identify the types of fire causes for structural and vehicle fires. Differentiate between accidental and incendiary causes. Identify the characteristics of arson and common motives of the fire setter.
8. Discuss the basic principles of electricity as an ignition source.
9. Identify and analyze fire causes involved in line of duty structural firefighter deaths. Recognize potential health and safety hazards.
10. Identify the characteristics of an incendiary fire and common motives of the fire setter.

Content outline

I. Emergency Responder Responsibilities and Observations
A. Responsibilities of the Fire Department
B. Responsibilities of the Firefighter
C. Responsibilities of the Fire Officer
D. Observations When Approaching the Scene
E. Observations Upon Arrival
F. Observations During Firefighter Operations
G. Identification of Incendiary Devices
II. Constitutional Law
A. Criminal Law
B. Constitutional Amendments
III. Case Studies
A. Michigan v. Tyler
B. Michigan v. Clifford
C. Daubert Decision
D. Benfield Decision
E. Kuhmo/Carmichael Decision
IV. Fire Investigation Terminology
A. Terms as They Apply to Structural Fires
B. Terms as They Apply to Vehicle Fires
C. Other Common Investigative Terms.
V. Basic Elements of Fire Dynamics
A. Ignition
B. Heat Transfer
C. Flame Spread
D. Burning Rates
E. Fire Plumes
F. Fire Analysis
VI. Building Construction
A. Types of Construction
B. Building Materials.
C. Building Components.
VII. Fire Protection Systems
A. Extinguishment Systems
B. Detection Systems
C. Signaling Systems
D. Other Building Services
VIII. Basic Principles of Electricity
A. Basic Electricity
B. Wiring Systems
C. Common Electrical Systems
IX. Health and Safety
A. Methods of identification
B. Common Causes of Accidents
C. Common Causes of Injuries
X. Fire Scene Investigations
A. Examining the Fire Scene
B. Securing the Fire Scene
C. Documenting the Fire Scene
D. Evidence Collection and Preservation
E. Exterior Examination
XI. Determining Point of Origin
A. Interior Examination
B. Area of Origin
C. Fire Patterns
D. Other Indicators
E. Scene Reconstruction
F. Point of Origin
XII. Types of Fire Causes
A. Accidental
B. Natural
C. Incendiary
D. Undetermined
XIII. Vehicle Fires
A. Examination of Scene
B. Examination of Exterior
C. Examination of Driver and Passenger Area
D. Examination of Engine Compartment
E. Examination of Fuel System
F. Examination of Electrical System

Required materials

Materials for this course are provided free online and by the college.

Grading methods

Grades will be determined by weekly homework, midterm exam, field exercises, final presentation and final exam; may include discussion and short essays.

Outside of

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