Jun 18, 2024  
College Catalog 2022-2023 
College Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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FIRE 2420 - Fire Investigation

Credit Hours: 3.00

Prerequisites: None

(formerly FIRE 1180)

Fundamentals of fire investigation; chemistry of fire and fire behavior; determining point of origin and ignition sources; properties of combustibles and residues of pyrolysis; recognition of arson evidence.

Billable Contact Hours: 3

When Offered: Fall semester only

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Outcome 1: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to apply terminology used by fire investigators.


  1. Define fire investigation terms with 90% accuracy.
  2. Use fire investigation terms in classroom discussions to the satisfaction of the instructor.

Outcome 2: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to outline the basic method used to investigate a fire.


  1. Identify the scientific method of investigation.
  2. Identify the six major steps of a fire investigation.

Outcome 3: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to explain fire behavior.


  1. Define the four components of a fire tetrahedron.
  2. Define the three methods of heat transfer.
  3. Define ignition.
  4. Define fuel load.
  5. Identify fire development.
  6. List the products of combustion.
  7. Identify fire pattern development.

Outcome 4: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to examine fire patterns.


  1. Define fire patterns.
  2. Identify movement patterns.
  3. Define wood char.
  4. Identify spalling.
  5. Define oxidation.
  6. Identify the melting of materials.
  7. Identify thermal expansion and deformation of materials.
  8. Define smoke and soot.
  9. Identify clean burn areas.
  10. Identify calcination.
  11. Identify the role of glass in a fire investigation.
  12. Identify the location of patterns.
  13. Identify pattern geometry.

Outcome 5: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to outline legal considerations relating to fire investigations.


  1. Define arson according to Michigan law.
  2. List and define the Michigan Arson Statutes
  3. List relevant factors to be considered prior to an arson investigation.
  4. Identify civil litigation, negligence, and product liability.
  5. Define expert testimony.
  6. Distinguish between administrative and criminal search warrants.

Outcome 6: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to outline basic considerations of concern to the investigator prior to the beginning of the incident scene investigation.


  1. Identify basic incident information.
  2. List the basic functions that are commonly performed in each investigation.

Outcome 7: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to outline sources of information.


  1. Identify the Freedom of Information Act.
  2. Describe the purpose of an interview.
  3. Identify governmental sources of information.

Outcome 8: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the recording of a scene.


  1. Identify photographic preservation documentation of the fire scene.
  2. Identify photography techniques used during a fire investigation.
  3. Demonstrate notetaking techniques
  4. Create a fire investigation drawing according to nationally recognized standards.

Outcome 9: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to examine and test physical evidence.


  1. Define physical evidence.
  2. Identify when to collect physical evidence.
  3. Define comparison or control samples.
  4. Preserve physical evidence.
  5. Identify methods of collection.
  6. Identify evidence containers.
  7. Identify physical evidence.
  8. Identify the chain of custody of physical evidence.
  9. Identify examination and testing of physical evidence.

Outcome 10: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to outline safety requirements for fire investigators.


  1. Identify the safety factor that should require at least two investigators at a fire scene.
  2. List the personal protective equipment needed at a fire scene.
  3. Identify fire scene hazards.
  4. Identify structural stability.
  5. Identify status of all utilities
  6. Identify the safety of the fire scene atmosphere.

Outcome 11: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to assess the fire origin.


  1. Define fire origin.
  2. Identify fire damage assessment by notes, photography, vector, diagrams, and depth‐of‐char grid diagrams.
  3. Demonstrate a preliminary scene assessment.
  4. Demonstrate a preliminary scenario development.
  5. Demonstrate a detailed exterior surface examination.
  6. Demonstrate a detailed interior surface examination.
  7. Identify pre‐fire conditions.
  8. Demonstrate fire scene reconstruction.
  9. Identify fire‐spread scenario.
  10. Define a total burn.

Outcome 12: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to assess the fire cause.


  1. Define cause determination.
  2. Identify an accidental fire cause.
  3. Identify a natural fire cause.
  4. Identify an incendiary fire cause.
  5. Identify an undetermined fire cause.
  6. Identify the source and form of heat ignition.
  7. Identify first material ignited.
  8. Identify ignition factor (cause).

Outcome 13: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to classify explosions.


  1. Identify the types of explosions.
  2. Define BLEVEs.
  3. Identify the orders of explosions.
  4. Identify the effects of explosions.
  5. Identify factors controlling explosion effects.
  6. Identify seated, nonseated, gas/vapor, dust, and smoke explosions.
  7. Define explosives.
  8. Investigate the explosive scene.

Outcome 14: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to determine the motivation of a fire setter.


  1. Describe the fire scene conditions or situations.
  2. Assist in the identification of the plausible motive for a given fire. 
  3. List the common arson motives.

Outcome 15: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to determine the cause of death based on information about the victim.


  1. Identify the type of information needed.
  2. Assess the fire victim’s condition.
  3. Collect evidence associated with fire victim.
  4. Consult with medical personnel.
  5. Follow best practices for gathering information.
  6. Document evidence.

• Communication: The graduate can communicate effectively for the intended purpose and audience.
• Critical Thinking: The graduate can make informed decisions after analyzing information or evidence related to the issue.
• Global Literacy: The graduate can analyze human behavior or experiences through cultural, social, political, or economic perspectives.
• Information Literacy: The graduate can responsibly use information gathered from a variety of formats in order to complete a task.
• Quantitative Reasoning: The graduate can apply quantitative methods or evidence to solve problems or make judgments.
• Scientific Literacy: The graduate can produce or interpret scientific information presented in a variety of formats.

CDO marked YES apply to this course:
Communication: YES
Critical Thinking: YES
Global Literacy: YES
Information Literacy: YES
Quantitative Reasoning: YES
Scientific Literacy: YES

I. Emergency Responder Responsibilities and Observations

  1. Responsibilities of the Fire Department
  2. Responsibilities of the Firefighter
  3. Responsibilities of the Fire Officer
  4. Observations When Approaching the Scene
  5. Observations Upon Arrival
  6. Observations During Firefighting Operations
  7. Identification of Incendiary Devices

II.Constitutional Law.

  1. Criminal Law
  2. Constitutional Amendments
  3. Case studies
    1. Michigan v. Tyler
    2. Michigan v.Clifford
    3. Daubert Decision
    4. Benfield Decision
    5. Kuhmo/Carmichael Decision

III.Fire Investigations Terminology

  1. Terms as They Apply to Structural Fires
  2. Terms as They Apply to Vehicle Fires
  3. Other Common Investigative Terms

IV. Basic Elements of Fire Dynamics

  1. Ignition
  2. Heat Transfer
  3. Flame Spread
  4. Burning Rate
  5. Fire Plumes
  6. Fire Analysis

V. Building Construction

  1. Types of Construction
  2. Building Materials
  3. Building Components

VII.Fire Protection Systems

  1. Extinguishment Systems
  2. Detection Systems
  3. Signaling Systems
  4. Other Building Services

VIII.Basic Principles of Electricity

  1. Basic Electricity
  2. Wiring Systems
  3. Common Electrical Systems

IX.Health and Safety

  1. Methods of Identification
  2. Common Causes of Accidents
  3. Common Causes of Injuries

X. Fire Scene Investigations

  1. Examining the Fire Scene
  2. Securing the Fire Scene
  3. Documenting the Fire Scene
  4. Evidence Collection and Preservation
  5. Exterior Examination

XI. Determining Point of Origin

  1. Interior Examination
  2. Area of Origin
  3. Fire Patterns
  4. Other Indicators
  5. Scene Reconstruction
  6. Point of Origin

XII.Types of Fire Causes

  1. Accidental
  2. Natural
  3. Incendiary
  4. Undetermined

XIII.Vehicle Fires

  1. Examination of Scene
  2. Examination of Exterior
  3. Examination of Driver and Passenger Areas
  4. Examination of Fuel System
  5. Examination of Electrical System

XIV. Firesetters

  1. Characteristics of Arson
  2. Common Motives

Primary Faculty
Staelgraeve, Kenneth
Secondary Faculty

Associate Dean
Lopez, Michael
Mirijanian, Narine

Official Course Syllabus - Macomb Community College, 14500 E 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48088

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