Fire Investigations Branch



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Within our specialized Fire Investigations Branch, professional investigators employ their extensive skills to meticulously analyze fire patterns, accurately document all aspects of the scene, and formulate hypotheses to substantiate their findings. Drawing on their expertise, they delve into the complexities of fire behavior, interpret potential signs of accelerant usage, and identify various contributing factors to the incident. This in-depth analysis is invaluable to both fire and law enforcement agencies, providing crucial insights that serve as foundational pillars in constructing their cases. Through their meticulous work, these investigators ensure that every detail is examined, enhancing the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the investigative process.


The Investigations Branch is equipped with advanced tools and specialized knowledge, enabling us to conduct a detailed analysis to identify the origin and cause of wildland fires. This initial step is crucial in ensuring the success of a fire investigation. Our process begins the moment a fire is reported or discovered. 

By starting our investigation promptly, we can accurately assess the factors leading to the fire's ignition. This proactive approach not only allows us to pinpoint the causation with precision but also plays a vital role in preserving essential evidence. Often, crucial clues can be lost or damaged during firefighting efforts. By acting swiftly and employing systematic methods, we safe-guard valuable information that might otherwise be compromised or destroyed. 

Our goal is to establish a strong foundation for a thorough and accurate investigation. This meticulous approach, coupled with our timely response, ensures that every detail is examined, enabling us to unravel the complexities of the incident effectively. By preserving evidence and employing our expertise, we contribute significantly to the overall understanding of wildland fires.


In situations requiring it, the Fire Investigations Branch takes on the responsibility of collecting and preserving vital evidence. This evidence often comes in the form of fire debris, which can be sent to a laboratory for testing the presence of hydrocarbons—a key component indicating the use of accelerants. This meticulous testing serves a crucial purpose in various con-texts, including criminal proceedings where it can substantiate claims, insurance investigations where it validates or disproves claims, and in understanding broader patterns or trends related to such incidents. By employing rigorous scientific analysis, we ensure that evidence gathered is not only preserved but also leveraged to its fullest potential, shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the incident.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, along with digital documentation, revolutionize fire and explosion investigations in multiple ways. UAVs equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors offer a bird's-eye view, allowing investigators to identify patterns, potential causes, and the extent of damage in areas previously difficult to access. They enable rapid and efficient assessment of large or inaccessible sites, facilitating prompt planning during the initial stages of an investigation. Additionally, UAVs capture detailed images and videos, aiding in the creation of precise 3D models and maps, crucial for understanding spatial relationships and preserving digital evidence records. 

Moreover, UAVs enhance safety by collecting vital information in hazardous environments without risking human lives. Their real-time data streaming capabilities allow remote experts to guide on-site investigators, improving collaboration and decision-making. Furthermore, the digital documentation, including images and videos captured by UAVs, serves as a comprehensive and easily shareable reference among investigators, experts, and legal authorities. Overall, UAVs and digital documentation empower investigators, ensuring thorough, accurate analyses, leading to well-informed conclusions and, if necessary, legal actions.


In our dedicated branch, highly skilled investigators meticulously analyze fire patterns and methodically document the entirety scene. Their findings are instrumental in supporting their hypotheses, which in turn, play a vital role in drawing final conclusions. These investigators bring their expertise to bear on understanding the complexities of fire behavior, pin-pointing potential accelerant usage, and identifying various factors that might have played a part in the incident. This meticulous analysis is invaluable for both fire and law enforcement agencies, serving as a cornerstone in building strong and well-informed cases.


The Fire Investigations Branch maintains a strong collaborative relationship with local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, both local and federal engaging in a seamless exchange of knowledge, techniques, and re-sources. This collaborative effort is designed to significantly enhance the investigative capacities of these local entities, empowering them with the latest insights and tools. Furthermore, our branch actively cultivates strategic partnerships with federal agencies. This collaborative approach ensures a unified and coordinated effort in investigations, especially those that traverse jurisdictional boundaries. By bridging local and federal expertise, we create a comprehensive investigative network that is adept at handling complex cases efficiently and effectively.


Get ready for a groundbreaking development!  Our upcoming state-funded Fire Investigation Reimbursement Program is about to transform collaboration among jurisdictions. In just a few months, this innovative initiative will allow neighboring jurisdictions with investigative authority to seamlessly support each other in fire investigations along with DFPC. Thanks to this program, fire investigators from these neighboring areas can offer their expertise without worrying about budget constraints. 

At its core, this program aims to bolster the collective investigative capabilities of jurisdictions by encouraging collaboration. When a fire incident occurs, neighboring jurisdictions with qualified investigators can step in, confident that their costs will be reimbursed through this state-funded initiative. This approach not only strengthens the overall response to fire incidents but also nurtures a spirit of cooperation and unity among neigh-boring communities.


In the unfortunate event of a loss of life, whether it involves a first responder or a civilian due to a fire or explosion, the Fire Investigations Branch at DFPC recognizes the utmost importance of con-ducting a meticulous investigation. We stand ready to support your agency with a professional, compassionate, and detail-oriented approach. Our investigators are acutely mindful of the specific circumstances surrounding the overall event.


When dealing with arson-related fires and explosions, several critical factors demand evaluation beyond the origin and cause. These may  include the presence of multiple fires, unusual occurrences such as trailers or lack of the anticipated fuel load, unexpected absence of ignition sources, utilization of exotic accelerants, peculiar fuel load configurations, instances of burn injuries, and the use of incendiary devices and the list goes on.

Our team is educated and equipped to assist you. We delve into the complexities of arson cases, meticulously examining each element to provide a comprehensive analysis. By identifying patterns, analyzing unusual occurrences, and understanding the methods employed by perpetrators, we contribute significantly to unraveling the mystery behind arson-related incidents.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is on the verge of unveiling its latest standard, NFPA 1321, outlining essential requirements governing the establishment, operation, and management of fire investigation units. This comprehensive standard covers crucial aspects such as the management of system requirements, utilization of external resources, provisions for facilities and equipment, prioritizing health and safety, emphasizing education, training, and certification, meticulous docu-mentation, and report generation, among other related topics. Notably, the NFPA stresses the importance of teamwork during on-site investigations, strongly discouraging investigators from working alone due to the inherent dangers. Collaborative ef-forts and multiple perspectives significantly enhance the thoroughness and accuracy of scene examinations. Rest assured, our investigations unit stands ready to assist your agency comprehensively, ensuring that your investigative needs are met effectively and professionally.


The state is introducing two advanced fire and arson investigation trailers, strategically positioned in different areas of the state for quicker response during longer scenes. These trailers are equipped with extra supplies and organized spaces for tasks like interviewing, rehabilitation, and evidence processing. The goal is to enhance efficiency and comfort for investigators and victims alike. This initiative represents a significant step forward in the state's commitment to improving fire and arson investigations.


We use the iGUIDE Camera System to quickly capture floor plans and create a 3D walk-through of the fire-damaged area. This system is fast and precise, providing flexible file formats upon completion. iGUIDE helps us generate accurate floor plans crucial for fire scene documentation, forensic analysis, and post-fire measurements, effectively fulfilling various documentation requirements.


Accelerant Detection Canines (ADC), also known as “Arson dogs”, are trained to find small traces of accelerants used to start fires, aiding fire and law enforcement agencies in Colorado to identify cases likely related to arson. To illustrate their remarkable sensitivity, consider this: while we can taste a teaspoon of sugar in our coffee, these dogs can detect the same amount in a staggering million gallons of water, roughly equivalent to two Olympic-sized pools.  The investigations branch and local AHJ’s has the ability to provide this as a service to assist with your investigative needs.

  • Basic Fire Methodology 

  • Basic Fire Science 

  • Fire Patterns 

  • Building Systems 

  • Fire Protection Systems 

  • Electricity and Fire 

  • Building and Fuel Gas Systems Fire Related Human Behavior Legal Considerations 

  • Safety 

  • Sources In Information 

  • Planning the Investigation Documentation of the Investigation Physical Evidence 

  • Origin Determinization 

  • Fire Cause Determination  Analyzing incident 

  • Failure Analysis Tools 

  • Explosions 

  • Fire Death and Injuries 

  • Motor Vehicle Fires 

  • Wildfires 

  • Complex Fire Investigations