Arson is a criminal charge that is brought when it is determined that a fire has been intentionally set. The cause of an intentionally set fire is referred to as incendiary. Since 2000, the United States has averaged more than 500,000 structure fires per year, of which 8 percent, or 40,000, are classified as incendiary. The FBI reports that 18 percent of incendiary fires are cleared by arrest. While the true error rate in fire investigations is unknown, a number between 5 and 10 percent is widely accepted. The implications are that a considerable number of fires, between 1900 and 3800 each year, are falsely categorized as incendiary and between 350 and 700 individuals are wrongfully charged with arson every year.
It can be disconcerting to see a team of investigators who all have Arson Investigator in bold letters across their backs processing a fire scene. Their involvement often assumes criminal intent. Nationally recognized standards such as NFPA 921 require that to reach an incendiary fire cause, all other potential fire causes must be ruled out. However, often a fire cause of incendiary is arrived at even though the fire scene has not been properly processed and all other fire causes have not been ruled out
The Fire and Explosion Practice Group at Robson Forensic is comprised of Professional Engineers and seasoned fire investigators who are nationally certified as fire and explosion investigators. When brought into an arson case we start fresh and conduct a complete fire investigation. Many times we find potential fire causes that have not been ruled out, errors in evidence handling and that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fire cause was incendiary.
Please contact the practice leader for our Fire Group, Timothy M. Wilhelm, C.F.E.I., C.V.F.I., to discuss your case and how we can help.
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Robson Forensic has been providing high quality and professional forensic engineering, architectural, scientific and
investigative services throughout the United States since 1987. Robson Forensic provides expertise in a broad range of forensic and technical disciplines.
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