The Fire Investigation Team for North Yorkshire was formed in 1992 to tackle fire-related crime in our county. Every fire attended by the Fire Service is examined by the responding fire crews to establish the most likely cause. However, there is sometimes the need for a more detailed investigation. We have a dedicated team of fire investigators who examine the causes of a fire and help to identify dangerous products and practices.
Typical examples of incidents the Fire Investigation Team attend include those where:
- A large amount of fire services resources has been required to extinguish the fire.
- Members of the public have suffered injury, have escaped or have been rescued from a fire.
- The spread of fire within a building or structure was unusual.
- It is suspected that a fire has been started maliciously or deliberately.
In cases where the cause of a fire is thought to be suspicious or otherwise deliberate, fire investigation officers will work to provide evidence from the scene and associated enquires to assist the police in prosecuting those responsible. Members of the Fire Investigation Team are often called upon to provide evidence regarding the origin and cause of a fire to the Coroner and criminal or civil courts. An understanding of the legal and evidential processes is essential for members of the team.
The Fire Investigation Team will attend any incident in support of operational crews who suspect that a fire has been started deliberately. They will examine and record evidence from the scene, collecting samples of materials which may have been used to start or accelerate the development of the fire, working with the police and other partners to help identify and convict the culprits.
Information from investigations is used to inform and develop safety strategies, targeting those identified as the most vulnerable groups in our society. Lessons learned from investigations of fires, and in particular those with accidental causes, are also passed on to other agencies including the Local Authority, Trading Standards, Health and Safety Executive and Her Majesty’s Coroners.
The team makes sure that its own members develop their skills through continuous scientific and legal training, and provides two specialist investigators working within the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Fire Investigation Team. Covering all four Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services, the regional team has specific responsibility for the more complex fire incidents and fire crime.
The North Yorkshire Fire Investigation Team also works closely with colleagues in the insurance industry, helping to reduce the incidence of fraud.