Use of Damage in Fire Investigation: A Review of Fire Patterns Analysis, Research and Future Direction

Report Date: May 2015

As in firefighting, much of fire investigation has traditionally been learned on-the-job or experientially. Fire investigation is among the more complicated forensic sciences and requires a solid understanding of fire behavior and physics in general. Proper fire investigation should use fire patterns as the basis to determine the fire cause, the cause of the resulting property damage and most importantly, the cause of injury or loss of life to civilians and firefighters (Gorbett et al, 2015). Recently there has been an effort to provide a greater scientific foundation for the forensic sciences. Towards the goal of improving the scientific foundation, this paper provides a review of the literature and research on fire investigation and fire patterns from the past 80 years. It examines fire patterns, and more specifically, their use in assessing the degree of fire damage, clusters of damage, causal factors, and a determination of an area of origin. This paper provides another means to better understand fire behavior and can be used by fire investigators and firefighters alike to improve their fire literacy.


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Gorbett, Gregory E, Brian J Meacham, Christopher B Wood, and Nicholas A Dembsey. Use of Damage in Fire Investigation: a Review of Fire Patterns Analysis, Research and Future Direction. Fire Science Reviews 4:4. 2015. 

Copyright © 2015 Gorbett et al. 

This is an open access article used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (


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