Dec 04, 2021  
2021-2022 College Catalog 
2021-2022 College Catalog
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FSC 174 - Fire Investigation I

3 Credits, 3 Contact Hours
3 lecture periods 0 lab periods

Introduction to fundamental concepts of fire scene investigation. Includes emergency responder responsibilities and observations, conducting origin and cause interpretation, preservation of evidence and documentation, scene security, motives of the fire setter, and elements of fire dynamics.

Information: This class is in compliance with the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) model curriculum.
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Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Define how constitutional amendments apply to fire investigations and how case law decisions affected fire investigations.
  2. Explain the role of the fire setter and their motives to start fires.
  3. Define the process of investigating a fire to include of conducting fire origin and cause, conducting an investigation using the scientific method and the process of performing a fire investigation.
  4. Define methods for case investigation, importance of documentation, proper preparation of records and reports and how this translates into preparing for a court session to include proper courtroom demeanor and techniques for giving testimony.

Performance Objectives:
  1. Identify the responsibilities of a firefighter when responding to the scene of a fire, including scene security.
  2. Demonstrate the importance of documentation and evidence preservation process needed for successful resolution.
  3. Identify the processes of proper documentation.
  4. Describe the implications of constitutional amendments as they apply to fire investigations.
  5. Identify key case law decisions that have affected fire investigations.
  6. Define investigation terms and techniques of the combustion process to assist the untrained investigator or attorney.
  7. Explain the basic elements of fire dynamics and how they affect cause determination.
  8. Compare the types of building construction on fire progression.
  9. Describe how fire progression is affected by fire protection systems and building design.
  10. Discuss the basic principles of electricity as an ignition source.
  11. Determine potential health and safety hazards.
  12. Describe the process of conducting investigations using the scientific method.
  13. List and identify the agencies involved in arson investigation and describe the techniques used to achieve cooperation and information from these agencies.
  14. Define methods for case investigation and proper preparation of records and reports.
  15. Describe proper courtroom demeanor and techniques for giving testimony.
  16. Define the process of conducting fire origin and cause.
  17. Identify cause and origin, and differentiate between accidental and incendiary.
  18. Explain the procedures used for investigating vehicle fires.
  19. Identify the characteristics of an incendiary fire and common motives of the fire setter.

  1. Emergency Responder Responsibilities and Observations
    1. Responsibilities of the fire department
    2. Responsibilities of the firefighter
    3. Responsibilities of the fire officer
    4. Observations when approaching the scene
    5. Observations upon arrival
    6. Observations during firefighting
    7. Identification of incendiary devices
  2. Constitutional Law
    1. Criminal law
    2. Constitutional amendments
  3. Case Studies
    1. Michigan v. Tyler
    2. Michigan v. Clifford
    3. Daubert decision
    4. Benfield decision
    5. Kuhmo v. Carmichael decision
  4. Fire Investigations Terminology
    1. Terms as they apply to structural fires
    2. Terms as they apply to vehicle fires
    3. Other common investigative terms
  5. Basic Elements of Fire Dynamics
    1. Ignition
    2. Heat transfer
    3. Flame spread
    4. Burning rate
    5. Fire plumes
    6. Fire analysis
  6. Building Construction
    1. Types of construction
    2. Building materials
    3. Building components
  7. Fire Protection Systems
    1. Extinguishment systems
    2. Detection systems
    3. Signaling systems
    4. Other building services
  8. Basic Principles of Electricity
    1. Basic electricity
    2. Wiring systems
    3. Common electrical systems
  9. Health and Safety
    1. Methods of identification
    2. Common causes of accidents
    3. Common causes of injuries
  10. Fire Scene Investigations
    1. Examining the fire scene
    2. Securing the fire scene
    3. Documenting the fire scene
    4. Evidence collection and preservation
    5. Exterior examination
  11. Investigation
    1. Cooperative agencies
    2. Sources of information
  12. Case Investigation and Preparation
    1. Witnesses
    2. Arrest and detention
    3. Records and reports
  13. Courtroom Demeanor and Testimony
    1. Testifying
    2. Expert witness
  14. Determining Point of Origin
    1. Interior examination
    2. Area of origin
    3. Fire patterns
    4. Other indicators
    5. Scene reconstruction
    6. Point of origin
  15. Types of Fire Causes
    1. Accidental
    2. Natural
    3. Incendiary
    4. Undetermined
  16. Vehicle Fires
    1. Examination of scene
    2. Examination of exterior
    3. Examination of driver and passenger areas
    4. Examination of engine compartment
    5. Examination of fuel system
    6. Examination of electrical system
  17. Fire Setters
    1. Characteristics of arson
    2. Common motives

Effective Term:
Full Academic Year 2018/19

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