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Fire and Arson Investigations


Fire and arson investigators examine the physical attributes of a fire scene and identify and collect physical evidence from the scene. This evidence is then analyzed to help determine if the cause of the fire was accidental or deliberate. During the scene examination, investigators may find evidence such as accelerants, tampered utilities, and specific burn patterns, which may indicate criminal activity.

NIJ addresses the specific needs of the fire and arson investigation community by funding research to develop new and improved tools and techniques to interpret, identify and analyze evidence at fire scenes.

NIJ funds research to better understand fire dynamics and improve ways to detect, analyze and identify accelerants, such as gasoline.

On this page, find links to articles, awards, events, publications, and multimedia related to fire and arson investigations.

Fire Investigation Full Scale Experiments to Study Impact of Ventilation on Fire Patterns
UL FSRI (see reuse policy).

Full-Scale Experiments to Study Impact of Ventilation on Fire Patterns

Under an NIJ grant, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute's fire investigation project completed scientific research into how ventilation impacted fire patterns and electrical system damage in single-family homes. 

Fire and Arson Scene Evidence: A Guide for Public Safety Personnel

This handbook is intended as a guide to recommended practices for the collection and preservation of evidence at fire/arson scenes.

Smokeless Powder Database
istock / tilzit (see reuse policy).

Smokeless Powder Database

A reference collection of information and data on powders, designed to assist forensic explosives analysts in characterizing, classifying, and comparing smokeless powder samples based on their physical and chemical properties.

Substrate Database
istock / Xesai (see reuse policy).

Substrate Database

A compilation of characterization data from materials which may produce interfering products in fire debris.  The Substrate Database is a tool designed to assist forensic analysts conducting fire debris analysis

Burning Item Database
istock / atom1975 (see reuse policy).

Burning Item Database

A collection of fire test data for commonly used household or office furniture.

Ignitable Liquids Reference Collection
istock / surpasspro (see reuse policy).

Ignitable Liquids Reference Collection

A compilation of reference materials used by forensic analysts to conduct fire debris analysis. 

Material Thermal Database
istock / aquatarkus (see reuse policy).

Material Thermal Properties Database

A small collection of thermal properties for materials used to construct common objects found in households and offices.