Practical Fire and Arson Investigation: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Practical Fire and Arson Investigation

2nd Edition

By David R. Redsicker, John J. O'Connor

CRC Press

432 pages

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Hardback: 9780849381553
pub: 1996-10-10
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Did you know. . .

. . . that arson has been described as the fastest-growing crime in America?

. . . that arson is the most expensive crime committed?

. . . that over 8 billion dollars was estimated lost due to fires in 1994?

. . . that an estimated 86,000 structure fires of incendiary or suspicious origin were reported in 1994?

David Redsicker provides these statistics and much more, including practical methods, information, and advice for investigating these types of crimes, in Practical Fire and Arson Investigation, Second Edition.

Extensively rewritten second edition of this practical manual - More than 40% new material!

Practical Fire and Arson Investigation, Second Edition is a significantly revised, updated, and expanded new edition of this best-selling book in the Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations series, edited by Vernon Geberth. As in the first edition, specific details on the basic principles are presented, and advanced applied techniques for conducting a thorough fire and arson investigation are detailed.

New topics covered in the Second Edition include:

  • Extensively rewritten chapters on determining origin and cause, eliminating accidental fire causes, investigating fatal fires and vehicular fires, and documenting the fire/crime scene

  • Fire scene photography using "painting with light"

  • Importance of evidence preservation and analysis in civil litigation of liability and product defects
  • Table of Contents

    Arson: The American Experience

    Fire Service

    Police Service

    Public Awareness

    Fire Investigation Methodology

    Model Arson Task Force

    Role of the Fire Investigator

    Six Basic Steps for Fire Investigation

    References and Selected Readings

    Arson Motives and Pathology

    Arson for Profit

    Commercial Fire Checklist

    Revenge and Prejudice


    Juvenile Fire Setters and Vandalism

    Crime Concealment

    Psychological Compulsion

    Mass Civil Disturbance (Riot)


    References and Selected Readings

    Building Construction: Fire Problems and Precautions

    Classification of Building Construction

    Building Components

    Structural Loads

    High-Rise Construction

    Structural Fire Precautions

    Fire Extension and Accepted Architectural Designs

    Design Problems

    Construction and Material Problems

    Fire Detection, Alarm, and Suppression Systems

    Neutralizing Fire Protection Systems

    Glossary of Building Terms

    References and Selected Readings

    Chemistry and Behavior of Fire

    Components of Fire


    Oxygen and Oxidation

    Fuel and Its Physical State

    Chemical Chain Reaction

    Other Terms Relating to the Chemistry of Fire

    Behavior of Fire

    Classification of Fire

    Phases of Fire

    Rate of Burn

    Structural Fire Spread

    Direction and Rate of Spread

    Burn Patterns

    Rapid Movement - Slow Movement

    Smoke and Flame Color

    Fire Suppression

    References and Selected Readings

    Determining Origin and Cause

    Physical Examination of the Fire Scene

    Exterior Examination

    Interior Examination

    Room and Points of Origin

    Fire Language


    References and Selected Readings

    Eliminating Accidental Causes

    Electrical Fires


    Gas and Flammable Vapors

    Building Heating Equipment

    Auxiliary Home Heating Equipment

    Cooking-Related Fires

    Children and Pets

    Improper Storage of Combustibles/Flammables

    Spontaneous Combustion/Ignition


    Clandestine Laboratories

    Construction, Renovation, and Demolition

    Direct Sunlight

    Product Liability and Subrogation

    References and Suggested Readings

    Investigating Fatal Fires

    Six-Phase Investigative Approach

    Fire Incident

    Examination of the Body

    Origin and Cause/Investigative Canvass

    Determining Investigative Procedure

    Cause of Death and Investigative Procedure

    Follow-Up Investigation

    Arrest and Trial

    Special Evidence at Fire Scenes

    References and Selected Readings

    Investigating Vehicular Fires


    Notification and Response

    Vehicle Collisions and Relation to Fires

    Vehicle Identification and Owner Information

    Salvage Examination

    Elimination of Accidental Causes

    Multiple Points of Origin

    Heat Indicators

    Other Factors

    References and Selected Readings

    Incendiary Fire Evidence

    Time-Delayed Ignition Devices

    Accelerants and Related Burn Patterns

    Legal Aspects of Evidence Collection

    Evidence Collection

    Identification of Evidence

    Laboratory Analysis and Testing

    Evidence Storage

    Shipment/Transferal of Evidence

    Presenting Evidence in Court

    Disposal of Evidence


    References and Selected Readings


    Documenting the Fire/Crime Scene

    Crime Scene

    Documentation Sequence




    References and Selected Readings


    Planning the Surveillance Operation


    Surveillance Methods

    Applying Surveillance to Arson Investigation


    References and Selected Readings

    Interviewing and Interrogation

    Investigative Canvass

    Evaluating the Subject


    Physiological Factors

    Unique Interview Situations

    Initial Interview Procedure: An Example

    Interviewing and Interrogation Strategies

    Common Interviewing Errors

    Summary of Guidelines

    Lying Witness

    Constitutional Rights of Individuals

    References and Selected Readings

    Court Qualification and Testimony

    Pretrial Testimony

    Trial Preparation

    Witness Stand Behavioral Guidelines

    Cross Examination

    Defense Expert

    Standard for Professional Qualifications of Fire Investigator

    References and Selected Readings

    Legal Aspects



    Problems of Proof in Arson Prosecution

    Other Legal Considerations

    Exigent Circumstances

    Criminal Search Warrant

    Federal Rules of Evidence

    Prosecution for Insurance Fraud


    References and Selected Readings


    About the Series

    Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations

    Learn more…

    Subject Categories

    BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
    LAW / Forensic Science