Arson vs. Fire Investigators: What’s the Difference?

September 14, 2022

The damage that fires can cause to residential and commercial homes is devastating. Unfortunately, these tragic events are sometimes intentional and motivated by criminal activities. Following the aftermath of a fire, it’s important to determine whether foul play was involved and how it originated in the first place. This job is conducted by arson and fire investigators. What’s the difference between these two professions?

Arson Investigators

An arson investigator’s number one job when examining a fire is to determine whether or not foul play was involved. Acts of arson are related to insurance fraud and other criminal activities, so it’s essential that a culprit is found in a timely manner. Arson investigators look for specific pieces of evidence that might indicate the work of an arsonist.

Multiple sites of ignition are a pretty obvious sign that a fire was started intentionally by an individual, as is the presence of accelerant residue. Another sign of potential arson is if most of the burn damage is on the floor rather than the ceiling—this occurs when the culprit uses accelerants. Arson investigators are highly trained professionals with years of fire-prevention and chemistry experience. Since acts of arson are often well planned and the subsequent fire eliminates much evidence, it’s not easy to determine suspects.

Fire Investigators

A fire investigator’s responsibility when examining the aftermath of a fire is to determine the origin of the initial combustion. They work with arson investigators and local authorities to study evidence and find a cause, giving invaluable information to the ongoing investigation.

Like arson investigators, fire investigators possess great experience and knowledge of the characteristics, behaviors, and common causes of fires. They can apply this knowledge to a multitude of industries and environments. Fire investigators also conduct preemptive fire prevention examinations of various settings to determine obvious/potential fire hazards.

What’s the Difference?

Fire and arson investigators are similar in many ways, and their jobs are often intertwined. Working together, they can help effectively determine how a fire was caused and if someone is responsible for the damage.

Arson investigators are determined to find evidence of foul play through forensic fire and explosion investigation practices. Additionally, the role of an arson investigator is typically reserved for responding to potential crime scenes. Meanwhile, fire investigators do preventative work to ensure fires are less likely in various living and working environments.

The difference between arson and fire investigators might seem minor, but their specific roles and specialties ensure more accurate fire and explosion investigations. We at Dreyim are here for you in the event of a fire where arson is ruled out—consult with us today for excellent and professional forensic fire investigation services.

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