If a fire cannot be prevented, a clear cause must be determined. The ability to examine a fire scene and reconstruct the sequence of events that took place that caused a fire is part science and part skill. Skills are used to examine burn patterns and characteristics while science is used to analyze materials that burned or may have failed. When put together, a clear picture of how a fire started usually begins to take shape. It is the skilled fire investigator that can put these two together to know who, what, how, and when a fire started.
Knowing how a fire started can provide valuable information that can lead to safer products and process that we use daily. Defective products can be recalled, and the public can be educated on how best to prevent similar fires in the future.
Some fires may not be accidental in nature. Intentionally set fires (arson) account for tens of thousands of fires annually. In instances where an arson fire is suspected, Chesterfield Fire and EMS Fire Marshal's team up with Chesterfield Police Detectives to solve the crime.
When the size of the incident becomes complex, the Fire Marshal's Investigation Unit, a specially equipped van, responds to the scene. The equipment contained in this unit can conduct field tests and sampling, as well as evidence collection and scene documentation.
The Chesterfield Fire Marshal's Office is also a member of the Central Virginia Arson Task Force. The participating jurisdictions are available to provide support and technical assistance to other member jurisdictions as needed for larger scale fires.
If you know of a suspected arson fire in Chesterfield County, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org , call 804-748-1426 or contact Chesterfield County/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers .