In total seven (7) CFA participants attended the course from a number of Fire Brigades and District Headquarters from across the state. Two members from Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) Gas Safety attended the course as well.
The emphasis of the course was to provide the participants with practical skills and knowledge in the field of fire investigation and to assist them in their new role as Fire Investigators.
Three of the CFA’s District Fire Investigation Coordinators, along with an experienced Fire Investigator assisted the State Fire Investigation Coordinator with the delivery of the course by undertaking various Instructor and Assessor roles throughout the week.
Topics presented throughout the week included:
- Fire dynamics
- Building Collapse
- Principles of fire investigation
- Fire Investigation within CFA
- Fire Scene Hazards from a Fire Investigation perspective
- Investigation of Structural Fires
- Determination of the origin and cause of fires
- Investigation of Vehicle Fires
- Accidental Ignition Sources
- Electrical Related Fires
- Gas Related Fires
- Evidence Collection
- Report Writing.
A number of practical demonstrations involving room burns and vehicle fires were undertaken to demonstrate the investigation techniques associated with structures and vehicles.
Throughout the week guest instructors from the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre – Fire & Explosion Investigation Section along with the Crime Scene Examination Unit attended the course. The guest instructors delivered sessions on the investigation of arson and incendiary fires, explosives and explosions and fatal fire scenes.
The participants also learnt practical skills of how to take photographs at fire scenes along with collection of evidence and what information is required to complete a Fire Investigation Report.
Detectives from the Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad attended the course and provided an overview of the role of the Arson & Explosives Squad along with presenting a case study of a recent incident that they had investigated. The Detectives also delivered a lesson on the importance of canvassing witnesses and the types of questions that a Fire Investigator should ask when speaking to witnesses at fire scenes.
As part of the practical assessment for the course, a number of scenarios based on “real life” fire scene investigations were set up in the purpose built Fire Investigation Rooms at Fiskville. Each tilt slab room was fitted out with plastered walls, carpet, windows, fittings and fixtures. The rooms were also fully furnished with a variety of pieces of furniture, appliances and items that would be consistent with rooms such as lounge rooms, bedrooms or home office environments.
Each room was filmed before the ignition of the fires to record what the rooms looked like and the placement of furnishings and items prior to the fires occurring. The rooms were then filmed from the ignition of the fire through the different stages of fire development and to the extinguishment of the fire.
The course participants were divided into three Fire Investigation Teams and were required to investigate the fire scene to establish the origin and cause of the fire, using the techniques and principles that they had been taught during the course.
To ensure that the scenes are as realistic as possible, the teams were provided a number of witnesses during the course of their investigation. Witnesses included the Incident Controller and/or first Fire-fighter on scene, Police Officers, the owner / occupier of the property, business owner, neighbours, etc.
Following the completion of the investigation, the Fire Investigation Teams were required to prepare a report outlining their findings into the origin and cause of the fire and present this to the class.
Once each of the Fire Investigation Teams had completed their presentations, the footage showing each room scenarios was shown, including how the fires were ignited and the fire development.
Further information relating to the Fire Investigation Courses that are available to CFA members can be obtained via the CFA Intranet / Brigades on Line websites at:
Operations > Fire Investigation > Enhance my skills > Courses
State Fire Investigation Coordinator