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College of Criminology
Technology and causes of fire;
Fire Triangle Theory
The graphical representation of the three elements of fire, namely: Oxygen, Heat, and Fuel.
Each side is just as important as either of the other two sides. There cannot be fire without all the three
parts present in equal proportion.
Using the same theory, there are three ways to extinguish fire:

1. Remove the fuel

2. Cut-off the oxygen supply
3. Reduce the temperature (cooling)
Elements of Fire
1. Heat - a form of energy generated by the transmission of some other form of energy, as in combustion or

Heat Sources:
1. Open flame
4. Hot surfaces
2. Electrical circuit 5. Friction
3. Sparks

6. All sources of ignition

2. Oxygen - a colorless, odorless gas and one of the compositions of air which is approximately 21% by volume.

Oxygen Sources:
1. 21 % of normal oxygen
2. 78 % of nitrogen
3. 1 % of other gases

Oxygen Requirements
1. 12 % - no fire
2. 14 % - flash point
3. 21 % - fire point

3. Fuel - any substance which reacts chemically with oxygen and produces flames. The most important element of fire.
Fuel Sources:

1. Solid - molecules are closely packed together

2. Liquid - molecules are loosely packed
3. Gas - molecules are free to moved
Fire Tetrahedron
The fire, triangle theory describes the three elements, of a fire as shown in Figure 1.1. Another explanation of the
requirement of combustion uses a four-sided figure called tetrahedron as shown in Figure 1.2. Both theories are used to
explain what causes fire. The fourth element of the tetrahedron explanation is known as chemical reactivity, or chemical
For Combustion to occur, four elements are necessary:

1. Oxygen (oxidizing agent)

2. Fuel
3. Heat
4. Self - sustaining chemical reaction.
These elements can be graphically described as the fire tetrahedron. Each element of the tetrahedron must be in place for
combustion to occur. This theory is extremely important to students of fire suppression, prevention, and investigation.
Removing any one of the four elements combustion will not occur. If ignition has already started, the fire is extinguished, if
one of the elements is removed from the reaction.

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Components/Elements of the Fire Tetrahedron:
1. Oxygen (Oxidizing Agent)
Oxidizing agents are those materials that yield oxygen or other oxidizing gases during the process of a chemical reaction.
2. Fuel (Reducing Agent)
Fuel is the material or substance being burned in the combustion process.
3. Heat (Temperature)
Heat is the energy component of the fire tetrahedron. When heat comes in contact with a fuel, the energy supports the
combustion process.
Combustion Reactions/Process:

Causes pyrolysis or vaporization of solid and liquid fuels and the production of ignitable vapors
or gases;
Provides the energy necessary for ignition;
Causes the continuous production and ignition of fuel vapors or gases to continue the combustion reaction.
Types of Energy: (Common Sources of Heat)
1. Chemical Energy
It is the most common source of heat in combustion reactions. When any combustibles are in contact with oxygen
oxidation occurs. The reaction of this process results in the production of heat. Examples: Heat generated from a burning
match, Self-heating (spontaneous heating).
2. Electrical Energy
Electrical energy can generate temperatures high enough to ignite any combustible materials near the heated area.
3. Nuclear Energy
Nuclear heat energy is generated when atoms either split apart (fission) or combine (fusion). Examples:

a. Fission heats water to drive steam turbines and

produce electricity.

b. The solar energy is a product of a fusion reaction (a form of nuclear energy).

4. Mechanical Energy
An energy created by friction and compression.

Heat of Friction - is the movement of two surfaces against each other. This movement
produced sparks being generated.
Heat of Compression - heat is generated when a gas is compressed in a container or cylinder.
Self-Sustained Chemical Reaction (the fourth element)
Combustion is a complex reaction that it requires a fuel (gaseous or vapor state), an oxidizer, and heat to combine in a
very specific way. Once flaming starts, it can only continue when enough heat or energy is produced to cause the
continued chain reaction. Chain reaction is a series of events that occur in sequence with the results of each individual
reaction being added to the rest.
Fire and combustion are terms that are often used interchangeably. Technically speaking, fire is a form of combustion.
Combustion is a self-sustaining chemical reaction producing energy or products that cause more reactions of the same
kind. Combustion is an exothermic reaction. Fire is a rapid, self-sustaining oxidization process accompanied by the
release of heat and light of different intensities. The time it takes a reaction to occur determines the type of reaction that is
Products of Combustion
Four (4) Categories of products of combustion:
1. Fire gases

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are those that remain when other products of combustion cool to normal temperature. Common combustibles contain
carbon, which forms carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide when burned. Other fire gases include hydrogen sulfide, sulfur
dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nitrous and nitric oxide, phosgene, and hydrogen chloride.
The records of fatal fires show that more people died from inhaling these super-heated and toxic fire gases than from any
other cause.
The complete combustion of fuels containing carbon will produce CO 2, but seldom will there be enough oxygen for
complete combustion. When only part of the carbon is oxidized, carbon monoxide is formed. While carbon monoxide is
not the most toxic fire gas, it causes mote deaths than any other because robs the body of oxygen
Types of Poisonous Gases:
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN)
Hydrogen Chloride (HCl)
2. Flame
It is the luminous body of a burning gas which gets hotter and less luminous when mixed with more oxygen. Flame fades
when carbon burns completely, so flame is considered a product of incomplete combustion.
It is the manifestation of fire when the fire is in its gas-phased combustion.
Nature of Fire
Even the most flammable materials (capable of being easily ignited) do not actually burn. The vapor given off by a
material is the part that burns. When a piece of wood is ignited, the fire is not from the burning wood, rather, from the
vapors that are given off by the wood. The heat causes the substance in the wood to vaporize. The heated vapors mix
quickly with oxygen in the air and fire results. This process is known as Pyrolysis.
It refers to the chemical process whereby fire consumes the most solid part of the fuel. It is the thermal
decomposition of a solid fuel through the action of heat.

The process of Pyrolysis involves the following:

1. The fuel is heated until its temperature reaches its fire point;
2. Decomposition takes place moisture in the fuel is converted to vapor;
3. Decomposition produces combustible vapors that rise to the surface of the fuel. These
combustible vapors are technically termed as free radicals;
4. Free-radicals undergo combustion if proper amount of oxygen is present.

The most common type of free-radicals - (combustible vapors):

1. Hydrogen gas
2. Carbon monoxide
3. Carbon dioxide
4. Nitrogen

Most fires will involve incomplete combustion, producing CO and carbon particles along with
heat, water vapor, and CO2.
A fire involving material other than hydrocarbons and oxygen will produce combustion products composed of the
atoms and molecules forming the material together with the oxidizer used for the support of the combustion. This is the
reason a poisonous fuel may give off poisonous fumes and smoke.

3. Heat
A form of energy measured in degree of temperature, it is the product of combustion that spread the fire. It causes burns
and other injuries such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and respiratory tract injuries. Heat, oxygen depletion, and carbon
monoxide formation are the primary hazards in fires.

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4. Smoke
It is the visible product of incomplete combustion, usually a mixture of oxygen nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide,
finely divided particles of soot and carbon, and miscellaneous assortment of product released from the burning material.
Properties of Fire
A. Physical Properties
1. Specific gravity
- the ratio of the weight of a solid or substance to the weight of an equal volume of water
2. Vapor density
- the weight of a volume of pure gas compared to the weight of a volume of dry air at the same temperature and pressure
3. Vapor pressure
- the force exerted by the molecules on the surface of the liquid at equilibrium.
4. Temperature
- the measure of thermal degree of the agitation of molecules of a given substance; the measure of the molecular activity
within a substance.
5. Boiling point
- the constant temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the atmospheric pressure.
6. Ignition temperature or kindling temperature
- the minimum temperature to which the substance in the air must be heated in order to initiate or cause self-contained
combustion without the addition of heat from outside sources.
7. Fire point
- the temperature at which the material will give off ample vapors to keep burning. There is usually about 5-to 10
difference between the flashpoint and the firepoint of most materials. Since these two are just a few degrees apart.
8. Flashpoint
- the temperature at which a material is not hot enough to keep burning, but still gives off enough vapors to cause a flame
to flash across the surface. The term flashpoint is used to express the condition of a fuel vaporizing, whether or not it is
vaporizing fast enough to keep burning.
B. Chemical Properties:
1. Endothermic reaction
- are changes whereby energy (heat) is absorbed or is added before the reaction takes place.
2. Exothermic reaction
- reactions or changes that release or give off energy (heat) thus they produce substances with less energy than the
3. Oxidation
- a chemical change in which combustible material (fuel) and an oxidizing agent react.
4. Combustion/flame
- the manifestation of fire when the fire is in its gas-phased combustion. A matter that is produced by fire.
Vapor Density
The term used to explain the weight of vapors is vapor density. In order to measure the weight of these vapors
we usually compare them to air, which is considered to have a vapor density of 1.00. Therefore, if we say that a substance
has a vapor density of 1.5; it means that it is on-and-a-half times as heavy as air under the same conditions of pressure

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and temperature. If a substance has a vapor density of .7, it is lighter than air, weighing only 7/10 as much as an equal
volume of air.
Phases of Burning / The Three Stages of Fire
The methods firefighters use to extinguish a fire will depend largely on the phase in which they find the fire.
Factors to be considered in determining phases of burning:
1. The amount of time the fire has burned;
2. The ventilation characteristics of the confining structure;
3. The amount and type of combustibles present
Fires generally have three (3) progressive stages based on the above factors:
1. Incipient/Beginning phase - it is the initial stage of fire.
2. Free-Burning Phase - the second phase of burning in which materials or structures are burning in the
presence of adequate oxygen.
3. Smoldering Phase - the final phase of burning wherein flame ceases but dense smoke and heat completely fill
the confined room.
Firefighters operating at fires in buildings must use precautionary measures when opening a building to gain entry, by
providing ventilation either by horizontal/cross ventilation (opening doors or windows), or vertical ventilation (opening a
hole at the highest portion of the affected part of the building. As the fire grows in a confine area, large volumes of hot,
unburned fire gases can collect in unventilated spaces. These gases may be at or above their ignition temperature but
have insufficient oxygen available to actually ignite. Any action taken during fire fighting operations that allows air to mix
with these hot gases can result in an explosive ignition called backdraft.
The danger for backdraft can be minimized with proper application of vertical ventilation causing the unburned gases rise
and release through the opening before an entry is made.
Conditions that indicate the danger for backdraft
a. Pressurized smoke exiting small openings
b. Black smoke becoming dense gray yellow
c. Confinement and excessive heat
d. Little or no visible flame
e. Smoke leaving the building in puffs or at intervals
f. Smoke stained windows
Flashover occurs when a room or other area is heated enough that flames sweep over the entire surface.
Firefighters originally believed that combustible gases released during the early stages of the fire cause flashover by
collecting at the ceiling and mixing with air until they burst into flames.
Combustible material is grouped into one of four classifications. These classes of fuel help to simplify firefighting
methods and techniques.
Classification of Fire
By knowing the classes of fire a certain material will fall into, you will be able to make intelligent firefighting
A. Based on Cause:
1. Natural fire
2. Accidental fire
3. Intentional fire
B. Based on Burning Fuel
Four (4) Classes of Fire
1. Class A

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Materials involving vegetable fibers, wood, paper straw, grain, and grass; combustible minerals such as coal and coke.
Nearly all thrash fires are considered as Class A.
2. Class B
Materials including petroleum products such as gasoline, fuel oils, lubricating oils, and greases; animal fats such as butter,
lard, and tallow; vegetable extracts such as alcohol, linseed oil, and turpentine; vegetable compounds such as
shortenings and oleomargarines; natural gases and compressed gases such as butane, propane, hydrogen, and
3. Class C
This type of fire involves electrical motors, electrical appliances and apparatus. Actually a Class C fire is composed
usually of Class A and Class B materials or a combination of both. Use of water is usually dangerous because of the risk
of electrical shock.
4. Class D
These are materials involving combustible metals, alloys, or metal compounds either in a solid, semi solid or liquid state.
They may further reduce in shavings, grindings, granules, or dust. Some liquid metals are kept in a liquid state under
pressure. Usually these liquid metals are extremely dangerous. Some of the more unusual metals are: sodium,
magnesium, titanium, sodium potassium, and uranium as well as pyrophoric organometallic reagents such a alkylithiums,
grignards, and diethylzinc. These type of materials burn at high temperatures and will react violently with water, air, and/or
other chemicals.
Spontaneous Heating
Spontaneous heating and spontaneous ignition start as a result of a chemical reaction within the material - a
reaction independent of any outside source of heat. Spontaneous heating begins a cycle of oxidation that builds up heat
very slowly in its first stage. The condition that builds up temperature high enough to cause ignition is called spontaneous
heating. At this point, it becomes spontaneous ignition. In most materials this process develops slowly and does not reach
its ignition point for days or even weeks; consequently, fires may break out today, that were actually started days before.
Usually there is enough air to oxidation, but not enough air to carry the heat from the area. Some of the common materials
that may spontaneously heated and ignited are animal oils, mixed fish oils, linseed oil, coal, coke, charcoal, sawdust, hay,
grain and cotton.
Propagation of Fire
Propagation of fire simply means the spread of fire. As a substance burns, fire propagation will be increased by
the transmission of heat by nearby materials. This condition causes additional vapors to be released thereby spreading
the fire.
Types of Heat Transmission:
1. Conduction
It is the transmission of object/medium or conductor, such as pipe, metal, hot air duct, wire, or even wall.
2. Radiation
The transmission through the discharge and spread of heat from a heated or burning source. This radiation takes place
through the air or through space that cause another flammable object to ignite.
3. Convection
It is the transmission of heat by the moving currents of liquid or gas. When these gases or liquids are heated, they start to
move within themselves; and by their free motion, circulation starts.
4. Flame Contact
Heat may be conducted from one body to another by direct flame contact. Fire spreads along or through burning material
by flame contact. When a material is heated to the point where flammable vapors are released, the vapors may be ignited.
Any other flammable material may be heated to its ignition temperature by direct contact with the flame or burning vapors.
Intensity of Fire

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Intensity of fire means simply how hot the fire is burning. Some types of fuels naturally burn hotter (more
intensely) than others. For example, a gasoline fire burns hotter than a wood fire, while an acetylene flame is hotter than a
gasoline flame.
Factors to determine the intensity of fire:
1. Type of fuel
2. Percentage of oxygen present
Explosive Limits
The term explosive limits means the amount (expressed in percent) of fuel vapor that can be mixed with air to
form and explosive or flammable mixture. If less that this amount is used, the mixture will not burn. This is known as lean
to burn. If more than this amount is used, the mixture is called too rich and will not burn.
There is a minimum proportion of vapor-to-air below which the vapor will not burn and there is also a maximum
proportion of vapor-to-air above which the vapor will not burn. The minimum (lower) and maximum (upper) limits of the
carton of vapor-to-air in which the mixture will ignite or explode are known as the lower and upper explosive limits.
Magnitude of Fire
The Magnitude of fire means the size of a fire, and it is governed by the surface area of fuel exposed to the air.
The magnitude of fire is not always determined by the amount of fuel involved but more often by the amount of fuel
exposed to the air.
The temperature at which the material is not hot enough to keep burning, but still gives off enough vapors to
cause a flame to flash across the surface.
The temperature at which the material will give off ample vapors to keep burning. There is usually about 5 to 10
degrees difference between the flashpoint and firepoint of most materials. Since the two are just a few degrees apart, the
term flashpoint is express the condition of a fuel vaporizing, whether or not it is vaporizing fast enough to keep burning.
Ignition Temperature
Ignition temperature is the degree of heat necessary to ignite flammable vapors. This temperature can come from
an external source (match, spark, and friction): or if the fuel itself is raised to this temperature, auto-ignition (self-ignition)
will occur.
In nearly all fires, oxidation takes place by using the oxygen that is present in the atmosphere. However, in some
cases, certain chemical compounds known as oxidizing agents are involved. Though not flammable themselves, when
they are heated or when they come in contact with water, they give off which in turn, supports the burning of flammable
The more common Oxidizing Agents:
1. Nitrates
2. Chlorates
3. Peroxide
If a small quantity of potassium chlorate is added to a pile of sugar, flour, or starch, and heat is applied, the
mixture will burst into flame and burn violently. Without the addition of the oxidizing agent, these same fuels would be
extremely slow in igniting.
6.2 Basic principles in Fire and Arson investigation
This chapter will point out the main features of fire Investigation. Fire investigation is by nature the basis for fire
prevention program. Only an in-depth analysis of what sequences of events enable a fire to start, enabled it to spread,
and how and where it was controlled (e.g., firefighting, structural design, lack of fuel) can help prevent future fires.
Additionally, fire investigation includes the observations of everyone involved, and at the fires themselves there are many
firefighters who will able to shed light on the nature of the fire, its progress, and so forth.
One of the most difficult problems to solve is to determine the cause of the fire, since the flames generally
consume any evidence of what occurred. This is the reason that the cause of most fires cannot be determined without a
long and careful investigation.

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Firefighters often make snap judgments at the scene as to the cause of a fire, without an adequate evidence or
sufficient investigation on which to base their decision. Apparently, there is hesitation on the part of the firefighters to admit
that they do not really know the real cause of the (approximately 4% of those reported) are listed as cause known.
Instead, the fire is attributed to various causes without apparent regard to actual evidence or to lack of it.
Some of the favorite causes listed by firefighters, when they are not certain of the actual cause, are faulty wiring,
children playing with matches, spontaneous combustion, sparks from stove, burning rubbish, and careless disposal of
smoking materials.
The very general and indefinite nature of these causes indicates that, in most cases, they are based on
assumptions, rather than on evidence.
In this relation, the material or book will assist you in performing or conducting investigation to determine the
causes and origin of a fire.
No matter how small, fire must be investigated. Fire investigations provide authorities with information needed to
guide fire prevention educational programs, help fire inspectors in spotting and eliminating new or previously overlooked
hazards, and develop meaningful information for training fire protection personnel.
As far as fire investigation is concerned, they must be defined as:
Cause - that which made the fire start; and
Reason - that which led to the cause of a fire (a motive leading to the action).
Both cause and reason must be established to satisfactorily complete a fire investigation. The cause explains
the existence of fire, or the WHAT of investigation; while the reason establishes the WHY of the fire and investigation.
Both are required to correctly classify the fire, and also to provide guidance in establishing corrective action to preclude a
recurrence of the incident.
The importance of the establishment of a fire cause is the knowledge of the physical aspects of fire.
Four General Classes of Fire Causes
1. Natural Fire
fire caused naturally without human intervention or aid; such as lightning, spontaneous ignition, mechanical
malfunction of equipment.
2. Accidental Fire
fire causes where human action is involved directly or indirectly. i.e. a). Careless disposal of smoking materials;
b). workers using welding-cutting equipment
3. Arson
fire cause as a result of the willful and criminal action of some persons, i.e., incendiary fire.
4. Unknown Fire
fires which are not classified as to cause.
Three General Classifications of Fire
1. Innocent fire - e.g. natural and accidental causes
2. Incendiary fire - e.g. arson cases
3. Unknown fire - e.g. fire of unknown causes.
Fire Investigation and Evidence Kit
Evidence kit provides equipment for use in the investigation and for the preservation of any evidence found at the
scene after that evidence has been photograph in its original location.
Special clothing such as: coverall, gloves, boots used to protect uniform;
Flashlight and electric lantern;
Measuring tape and small ruler for making measurements;

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Labels (gummed and stringed) used to identify items;
New or sterile glass jars with rubber airtight seals used for the collection of samples;
Envelopes, boxes, plastic bags, metal cans used for the collection (assorted sizes) used for collection of
Basic Steps in a Fire Scene Examination
Search systematically
Take photograph
Work by the Process of Elimination
Check and Verify
Take Note
Draw diagrams
Areas to Conduct Fire Investigation
Determine where the fire vested first by comparing burn char, smoke, and heat patterns around windows,
doors, and roof.
Look for the following:
exterior points of origin;
unusual, burn patterns of flammable liquid;
tools and flammable liquid containers;
footprints and scuff, marks at suspected points of entry.
Conduct a cursory examination or general survey of the entire structure of interior for the extent of fire
damage. Establish the class of fire duration approximate burn time by checking the following:
Window glass condition;
Depth of wood char, at or in close proximity to the point of origin;
Penetration of fire restrictive wall coverings by fire;
Electric clock that has been stopped by fire damage.
Note the time stopped and compare with alarm time. The time factors should be estimated and
considered as approximation only.

Steps on How to Determine the Point of Origin

1. Examine the entire interior of the building and determine which room or areas have received the most severe
fire damage. Generally, this will be the area where the fire burned extensively or the longest and will very
likely be where it originated.
2. Determine the level or origin within the room by examining and comparing the bottom side of the tables,
shelves, and chairs.
3. Examine the ceiling and look for the following patterns:

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a) fire penetration and
b) heaviest fire exposure
4. Examine the light bulbs within the room. The side of the bulbs which is initially exposed to heat begin to swell
or bulge and lose shape at about 900 F when exposed to heat for 10 minutes or more actually point to the
area of fire origin.
5. Examine walls within the room and look for fire patterns or fire cones. Fires generally burn upward and
outward, leaving corresponding fire patterns on wall as a result of heat transfer through convection and
radiation. The steepness or relative, pitch of the angle seen on the fire cone is indicative of the type of
burning, e.g smoldering or flaming
Examine the fire debris and the floor in the following manner:
Conduct a detailed search of the debris, examining it layer by layer until the floor is reached;
Completely clean the floor on all debris and char dust. The floor and floor covering should be clean enough to
observe and photograph the significant burn and char patterns -and should be dry.
Carefully reconstruct and replace furnishings and other articles in their original positions by using burn patterns
and corresponding protected areas. During fire progress, legs and bases of furniture and other items on the
floor will protect the floor, leaving unburned marks which will aid in repositioning.
Examine the floor coverings and floor for significant patterns.
Examine fire damaged furnishing such as: upholstered furniture couches, chairs, beds, etc.
Two (2) General Types of Burn Pattern
Burn pattern that involves a surface burning of the item. This pattern is indicative of the presence of a smoldering source
of ignition. Examination of supporting springs will disclose that tension still exists.
Burn, patterns involving deep penetration of one portion with corresponding collapse of springs and frame destruction:
Spring collapse is caused when the heating process occurs over an extended length of time, causing the springs to lose
their tension and collapses of their own weight.
Types of Fire/Arson Investigation
Basic Investigation
1. to determine what property was damage;
2. what the causes and reasons were;
3. the number and extent of injuries or fatalities; and
4. the recommended corrective actions to prevent recurrence.
Technical Investigation
It is an in-depth investigation to determine more specific details of the cause and effects, and to establish
necessary corrective action.
Reasons in Conducting Technical Investigation
1. there is suspicion of arson in connection with any fire;
2. there is suspicion of negligence or violation of regulations;
3. the cause of any fire is undetermined (to establish the most probable cause);
4. there is evidence of negligence or mismanagement in the fire suppression or rescue operation,

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5. loss of life or disabling as a result of fire.
Arson Investigation
The direct result of the basic or technical investigation or it may be brought about from outside
The proper selection of an agent or method of control or extinguishment is the most important factor in
determining the degree of a success of a firefighting operation.
Fire Suppression - means showing down the rate of burning, whereas, control means keeping the fire from
spreading or holding the fire to one area. Extinguishment is putting the fire completely out.
Four Methods of Fire Extinguishment and How It Works
Extinguishing fire is somewhat comparable to the elimination of life. For example; the cooling of the fire may be
compared to asphyxiation (elimination of the oxygen supply), and separation may be compared with malnutrition or
starvation. The tetrahedron concept adds a fourth element - chemical reaction.
Under the triangle-of-fire-concept, there are three (3) ways of suppressing, controlling, and extinguishing a fire,
1. Cooling
The cooling process uses an extinguishing agent whose primary characteristic, is heat absorption. Water is the best
general cooling agent for firefighting purposes. Used on Class A fires, the water absorbs the heat generated at the surface
of the burning material, thus, reducing the temperature of the material below its flash point.
2. Smothering
excludes the oxygen from the fuel so that the gases or vapors of the fuel cannot ignite and continue the combustion. CO 2
and AFFF are used for this purpose.
3. Separation
The removal of the fuel, as in the example of turning off a valve in a gas line prevents the fuel and oxygen from coming
together. If fuel is not available, then heat, regardless of the temperature, cannot affect the fuel, Therefore, there is no fire.
These three methods of extinguishment explain how fires are extinguished with the used of water, CO 2, and foam.
They do not entirely account for the results obtained by vaporizing liquids or dry chemicals.
Vaporizing liquids could not possibly absorb enough heat to have the same effect as water, and dry chemical do
not exclude sufficient oxygen to smother a fire in the same manner as carbon dioxide.
The next paragraph will explain the fourth element, the chemistry of fire in terms of the theory of reactivity.
4. Chemical Chain Reaction
The fourth method of extinguishment is known as inhibition or the interruption of chemical reaction.
The sequence of events in suppressing or extinguishing a fire with dry chemicals or vaporizing liquids includes some
aspects of the first three methods.
Using the potassium bicarbonate (dry chemical) as an example, you can follow the process of the fourth method of
extinguishment. Remember this is a rapid reaction and does not necessarily happen one step at a time.
First, the heat of the fire vaporizes the potassium bicarbonate thereby producing water, carbon dioxide, and potassium
dioxide. In the process of vaporization and the change of these compounds, a substantial amount of heat is absorbed by
the water and some smothering occurs due to the release of CO 2.
Second, the chemical reaction resulting, when the potassium dioxide unites with the water formed by the fire creates an
amount of potassium hydroxide.
Third, some potassium hydroxide reacts with certain products released from the fuel, thus forming water and potassium
monoxide. Other potassium hydroxide molecules react with the free hydrogen of the combustion to form a potassium
atom and molecules of water.

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Finally, this combination of reactions halts the process of fuel uniting with oxygen of the air, thereby breaking the chemical
chain reaction and stopping the fire.
Extinguishing Agents
The effectiveness of an extinguisher on a particular fire depends on the amount and type of agent in the
extinguisher. Different extinguishing agents can be used to put out a certain class of fire by one or more methods.
1. Removing oxygen;
2. Removing the fuel;
3 Removing heat; and
4. Interrupting the chemical chain reaction.
Some extinguishing agents may be able to extinguish more than one class of fire. They are marked with multiple letters or
multiple numerical-letter ratings.
The following are the most common extinguishing agents, the class of fire they are used, and the extinguishing
methods used:
1. Water
Used only on Class A fires. Water is the most effective in cooling the burning material below its ignition
temperature. It is the most commonly used agent in firefighting.
In its natural state, it is highly stable and may be used to extinguish most types of fire if properly applied.
Due to its conductive properties, water should not be used on electrical fires.
There are many additives for water used in firefighting. Each of these has a specific purpose and effect on
the water.
Ways or Methods Water Extinguishes Fires
The outstanding heat absorbing qualities of water make it an excellent cooling agent. In the cooling process, water is
applied in large enough amounts to reduce the temperature of the surface of the burning material to below its flashpoint.
The amount of water required depends on the burning material (temperature) and the manner in which water is applied
(straight or fog stream).
When water is used to smother a fire, stream must be generated in sufficient amounts to exclude or displaced air. If the
steam generated is confined in the combustion zone, the smothering action will be enhanced. In ordinary combustibles,
the cooling effects of the water not the smother - normally causes extinguishment. The smothering effect does not
completely extinguish the fire; rather, it has a tendency to suppress flaming.
Water is generally used on Class A fires. Fires involving high flashpoint liquids (such as heavy fuel oil, and asphalt) may
be extinguished when water is effectively applied in spray form. Water may also be used to extinguish Class C and Class
D fires in some cases. In these cases, use extreme caution to avoid injury to personnel and/or damage to equipment.
2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
A number of its properties make CO 2 a desirable extinguishing agent. It is non-combustible and non-reactive with most
substances. CO2 provides its pressure for discharge from storage cylinders or extinguishers. Being a gas, CO 2 can
penetrate and spread to all parts of fire.
Extinguishment with CO2 is primarily by smothering. It covers or blankets the burning materials and reduces the oxygen
content to below levels needed for combustion. Even though it is very cold, it has a little cooling effect on a fire when
compared with equal amounts of water. This is the reason when fires that have been apparently extinguished with CO 2 reignite from hot surfaces or embers as the CO2 dissipates.

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Due to its non-conductivity, CO 2 is very effective for use on Class C fires. It is also used on Class B fires, but another
agent is needed in blanketing or smothering on large are fires to prevent re-ignition.
CO2 can cause unconsciousness and death in connections needed for extinguishment. A 9% concentration is about all
most people can take without becoming unconscious within just a few minutes.
3. Dry Chemical
The dry chemical extinguishing agents in use today are mixtures of powders and various additives that improve the
storage, flow, and water repellency of the powders. Sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, and mono ammonium
phosphate are some of the powders commonly used today. Dry chemical is stable at low temperatures, but it has an
upper storage temperature of 140 F. At temperatures above 140 F some caking or sticking of the powder occurs. These
agents are said to be non-toxic, but in discharging large amounts they may cause some breathing and visibi1ity problems.
Flames banish almost at once when dry chemical is applied directly to the fire area. But the exact chemistry and
mechanism of the extinguishing agent are not fully known. It has been suggested that the dry chemical agents inhibit the
chain reaction in the combustion zone has a greater effect in the extinguishment than the smothering or cooling actions
and radiation shielding have.
. Dry Powder
Dry powder is a generally term for agents used to extinguish combustible metal fires. No one dry powder has been found
to be effective, on all types of combustible metals.
Dry powder generally extinguishes fires by excluding air from the combustible metal. To some extent, heat is absorbed by
the powder to lower the temperature of the metal to below ignition point (as with G.I. powder).
Dry powder is used primarily on Class D fires and should not be used on other types of fire, due to its limited value on
these fires.
Aqueous Film Forming Foam has replaced protein foam for all around firefighting purposes. Protein base foam is now
used primarily for runway foaming operations and for some training purposes.
The quick knock-down and heat reduction properties of AFFF have provn it to be a highly effective agent. These
properties, combined with its ability to seal the surface of burning hydrocarbon fires to prevent flashback, make it an
outstanding and effective extinguishing agent with which to work. When AFFF is applied to the surface of a flammable
liquid fire, the surface active material (surfactant) provides a vapor sealing effect. This is not only extinguishes the fire but
also prevents the release of fuel vapors which could result in flashbacks. This vapor seal is also very hard to break-up by
walking, or moving some hose lines through it.
As with any other extinguishing agent, its effectiveness depends on the proper application. The AFFF is designed to be
applied at a 6 % mixture (94 parts water to 6 parts AFFF concentrate). This mixture should be applied in a rainfall manner,
or lobbing effect to allow rapid spreading over the surface. It is used primarily to extinguish on Class B fires. It may be
used on Class A fires but may be less effective than plain water. Foam spray (fog) is more conductive than plain water fog,
because the material contained in the foam allows the water to conduct electricity.
6. Halons (Halogenated Agents)
These agents have been used for over 50 years. Continuous research has brought these agents to the present high
degree of effectiveness in interrupting the chain reaction they possess along with a decrease in life safety hazard.
The older (better known) agents such as carbon tetrachloride (Halon 104) and chlorobromomethane (Halon 1011) are less
effective and more toxic than the newer agents now in use.

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Halogenated agents work chemically to extinguish fire. They stop combustion process by breaking the fire chain reaction
and prevent further fire propagation. This chemical fire-stopping action happens with only a low concentration of
halogenated agent used. Application of the agent may be applied locally by using a compressed bottle of noncombustible
gas similar to a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. This type of application is effective in controlling or extinguishing surface
fires involving flammable liquid, solids, or gases, such as dip tanks, quench, tanks, spray booths, oil-filled transformers, or
vapor vents.
Halogenated agents are very effective on Class B and Class C fires and have some effects or success on
Class A fires.
First aid is the immediate and temporary care given to an injured or sick person before or until the arrival of qualified
personnel/doctor. When the term first aid is used to describe a piece of equipment, the same general meaning applies.
Portable (first-aid) fire extinguishers are designed to be used on fires as soon as possible after they start and before the
fire gets too far along. These extinguishers may be able to extinguish the fire or hold it in check until larger firefighting
equipment arrives.
Extinguishers are designed primarily for use by people other than firefighters. The skill and knowledge in their operation
may mean the difference between using one small fire extinguisher or a big operation involving many fire trucks and
dozens of people to extinguish a fire.
Fire Extinguisher Defined:
It is a mechanical device usually made of metal, containing chemicals, fluids, or gases for stopping fires, the means for
application of its contents for the purpose of putting out fire (particularly small fire) before it propagates, and is capable of
being readily moved from place to place.
It is a portable device used to put out fires of limited size.
Classes of Fire Extinguishers:
Portable Fire Extinguisher
Portable fire extinguishers offer the greatest potential for immediately controlling workplace fires.
Their portability and relatively easy operation often make them ready for use within seconds. However, training and
education is critical to know more on the operations and use of an extinguisher. Users should know how to identify
extinguishers, what types are available, where they are in the work place, and above all, how to use them.
Dry Chemicals
Dry Chemical extinguishers are usually rated for multi-purpose use. It contains an extinguishing agent and uses a
compressed, non-flammable gas as a propellant.


Regular or ordinary (sodium and potassium bicarbonate respectively used only Class B or Class C fires.


Multi-purpose dry chemicals (ammonium phosphate) used on Class A, Class B, and Class C.

Dry chemicals inhibit the chain reaction and, to a certain degree, cool and smother the fire. These agents are chemically
treated with a substance to keep them water resistant and free flowing. This also helps prevent packing of the chemical
while stored inside the extinguisher. These dry chemical extinguishers may be found in sizes which range from 2 to 30
2. Carbon Dioxide
- used on Class B and Class C fires. CO 2 extinguishes fire by smothering, reducing the oxygen level, below that which
supports combustion. Under certain conditions, the coldness of the gas also helps put out the fire. It is an inert gas. When
CO2 is stored under pressure in a cylinder or tank such a fire extinguisher, it changes from a vapor to a liquid. When it
passes through the discharge valve of a fire extinguisher, it changes from a liquid to a gas and the expansion chills it to
low temperatures so that approximate 30% of the liquid CO 2 is converted into a solid dioxide snow or dry ice. The

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cooling will often cause ice to form around the horn where the gas is expelled from the extinguisher. Since there is the
possibility that the fire could re-ignite, continue to apply the agent even after the fire appears to be out.
3. Foam
- used only on Class A and B fires. Foam removes fuel by forming a layer over a burning liquid and preventing flammable
vapors from escaping. Foam will also smother by keeping oxygen from mixing with the vapors and cool with a constant
layer of water bearing foam
4. Halons
- used on Class B and C fires. These liquefied gases are most effective in interrupting the chain reaction, but they also
have slight smothering and cooling effects. These are made up of carbon and one or more halogen elements like fluorine,
chlorine, iodine, and bromine. These types of extinguishers are often used to protect valuable electrical equipment since
they leave no residue to clean up unlike CO2. Halon extinguishers have a limited range, usually from 4-6 feet. The initial
application should be made at the base of the fire, even after the fires have been put out.
5. Metal/Sand Extinguishers
- these types of extinguishers are primarily used for flammable metals (Class D) and have the characteristics of a
blanketing effect (smothering) on the fire. The most common extinguishing agent used is sodium chloride.
The following are different types of Metal/Sand Extinguishing Agents:
Sodium chloride
- used for metal fires involving magnesium, sodium (spills and in depth), potassium, sodium/potassium alloys, uranium
and powdered aluminum. Heat from the fire causes the agent to harden and form a crust that excludes air and dissipates
Powdered Copper Metal (Cu metal)
- used for fires involving lithium and lithium alloys. It is the only known lithium fire fighting agent which will cling to a
vertical surface thus making it the preferred agent used on three dimensional and flowing fires.
Graphite-based powders
- these are designed for use on lithium fires. It is also effective on fires involving high melting metals such as zirconium
and titanium.
Specially-designed sodium bicarbonate-based dry agents
- used to suppress fires with most metal alkyls, pyrophoric liquids which ignite on contact, with air, such as
Sodium-carbonate-based dry powders
- can be used with most Class D fires involving sodium, potassium or sodium/potassium alloys. This agent is
recommended where stress, corrosion of stainless steel must be kept to an absolute minimum.
6. Halotron I Extinguishers
These extinguishers are intended for use on class B and Class C fires. Halotron I is an ozone-friendly replacement for
Halon 1211 (which was banned by international agreements starting 1994). This clean agent discharges as a liquid, has
a high visibility during discharge, does not cause thermal or static shock, leaves no residue and is non-conducting. These
properties make it ideal for computer rooms, clean rooms, telecommunications equipment, and electronics, and it is
7. FE-36 - (Hydrofluorocarbon-236fa or known as HFC-236fa)
it is a DuPont-manufactured Halon 1211 replacement. This agent is less toxic than both Halon 1211 and Halotron I. It has
a zero ozone-depleting effect or potential. FE-36 is not scheduled for phase-out whereas Halotron I production is slated to
cease in 2015.
8. Water Mist Extinguishers
Ideal used for Class A fire where a potential Class C hazard exists. Unlike an ordinary water extinguisher, the misting
nozzle provides safety from electric shock and reduces scattering of burning materials. In non-magnetic versions, water
mist extinguishers are the preferred choice for MRI or NMR facilities or for deployment on mine sweepers

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Portable fire extinguishers are no substitute for sprinkler systems, hose streams, or other fire fighting devices. They
contain a limited supply of extinguishing agent, and their discharge range and time is limited. But they are necessary even
when property is protected by an automatic fire protection device.
Steps in using portable fire extinguishers:
1. Pull the pin at the top of extinguisher. When in place, the pin keeps the handle from being pressed, breaking
the plastic or wire inspection band.
2. Point the nozzle or outlet toward the base of the fire. If the hose is clipped to the extinguisher body, unclip it
3. Press the handle above the carrying handle to discharge the agent. To stop the discharge, release the handle.
4. Sweep the nozzle in side to side motion before the flames to spread the extinguishing agent. Direct the agent
at the base of the flames. After the fire is out, probe for smoldering hot spot or liquids that could reignite. Make
sure the fire is out. Back away from the fire area to protect yourself from possible danger or flashback.
Semi-Portable/Wheeled Extinguisher
These types of extinguishers provide a way of getting a sizeable amount of extinguishing agent to a fire rapidly. These
units are designed for in plant protection and offer a considerably longer agent discharge period and greater firefighting
power. Capacities range from 100 to 350 lbs. of dry chemical agent. Generally, nitrogen in a separate tank releases the
agent through a flexible hose tipped with a spray nozzle. The units typically have a 50 foot (15 m) hose that allows
considerable maneuverability while combating fires.
Steps to Operate, a wheeled type extinguisher:
1. Open the compressed gas cylinder to pressurize the agent;
2. Free the hose from its reel and move toward the fire;
3. Point the nozzle toward the base of the fire;
4. Squeeze the nozzle to discharge the agent. To stop discharging, release the nozzle action.
Inspection and Maintenance of Extinguishers:
Once a fire extinguisher is purchased and installed, it becomes the responsibility of the owner to maintain the
extinguisher so that it remains fully operable. To fulfill this responsibility, there should be a program to provide for the
periodic inspection of each extinguisher and an effective distinguisher maintenance program
Fire extinguisher maintenance is a specialized activity and should be performed by competent persons. Fire
extinguishers provided to protect life and property and there should be no doubt as to their reliability in time of emergency.
The more common types of extinguishers that you may come in contact with are the following
1. Water
2. Carbon Dioxide
3. Dry Chemical
4. Dry Powder
Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers
CO2 is an inert gas that extinguishes fires by smothering rather than by cooling. The heat-absorbing
capacity of CO2 is very limited, being only 10 % that of water.
When CO2 is stored under pressure in a cylinder or fire extinguisher, it changes from a vapor to a liquid.
When it passes through the discharge valve of a fire extinguisher, the change takes place from a liquid to a gas
and the expansion chills it to low temperature.
Internal pressure generated by CO 2 stored in a tank or cylinder is proportional to the temperature;
therefore, these extinguishers should not be placed in locations where heat is intense and they must be protected
from the direct rays of the sun during hot weather. At room temperature, the CO 2 gas exerts a pressure of more
than 800 psi in the extinguishers. The high internal pressure at normal temperatures requires that container must
be made of heavy materials.
An empty 15-pound capacity extinguisher weighs approximately 35 pounds. The 15-pound hand
extinguisher and 50-pound hand-drawn wheel-type extinguisher are the most commonly used in firefighting
Dry-Chemical Extinguishers

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Various compounds of dry-chemical agents are used. Some of the more common ones are sodium
bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, and an ammonium phosphate which is a multi-purpose agent. These agents
are chemically treated with a substance to keep them water resistant and free flowing.
This also helps prevent packing of the chemical while stored inside the extinguisher. These dry-chemical
extinguishers may be found in different sizes which range from 2 Y2 to 30 pounds. The 30-pound size is the most
common size used.
The extinguishers may be cartridge-operated or may be of stored- pressure type. The design of the
stored-pressure type is similar to the pressurized-water type.
Dry-Powder Extinguishers
These types of extinguishers are designed for use on Class D fires. Their sizes may vary from the small 1
lb., to the 350-pound wheeled type extinguishers. The 30-pound type is the most common type used in the U.S.
Air Force. The agents used I the extinguishers may be in powder or in granule form.
Using these agents on the wrong type of metal fire may result .in a serious explosion, release of toxic
gases, or both, thus endangering the users and others. One agent can be used on several types of metal fires,
while another agent van be used only on one specific type of metal fire. These agents are also treated to remain
water-resistive and free-flowing under stored conditions.
6.5 The law on destructive arson
This chapter will present and point out what are the reasons that contribute to the spread of fire. There are three
principal causes of fire namely: men, women, and children. This statement still has considerable significance because
most of the more than one and a quarter million building fires that occur every year in the United States and Asian
countries particularly the Philippines are cause by human errors either of omission or commission. For that reason
considerable importance is placed upon educating the public along fire prevention lines or programs. For many years we
have referred to the causes of fire. This was not always strictly correct. For example, flammable liquids have been listed
as on of the causes of fire, yet flammable liquids cannot alone cause a fire unless some ignition source is provided, and
one may well ask, What caused the fire, the flammable liquid or the ignition source?
In the United, States, the investigation of fires for their causes and the detection and apprehension of arsonists is
correctly the function of the fire department. Arson and the malicious activities of many persons cause a significant impact
each year in this country and abroad. There are many motives that contribute to these crimes.
The legal authority for investigating fires and prosecuting people who arranged for a fire is usually given to the
State Fire Marshall. But proving a case of arson against one or more persons is another matter entirely, and may not be
possible no matter how convinced the investigator may be of the guilt. The choice of whether to prosecute is up to the
District Attorneys office as part of the criminal justice system.
In the Philippines, under the DILG or PNP Law, the Bureau of Fire Protection and Public Safety is the main
government agency responsible for the prevention and suppression of all destructive fires on buildings, houses and other
structures, forest, land transportation vehicles and equipment, ships or vessels docked at piers or major seaports,
petroleum industry installations, plane crashes and other similar incidents, as well as the enforcement of the Fire Code
(P.D. 1185) and other related law.
It has the major power to investigate all causes of fires, and if necessary, file the proper complaints with the
proper authority that has jurisdiction over the case (R.A. 6975, sec 54).
What Constitute Arson?
1. Burning - there must be burning or changing, i.e., the fiber of the wood must be destroyed or decomposed, its
identity or physical state changed.
2. Willfulness - the act was done purposely and with intention.
3. Motive -

the moving cause that induces the commission of the crime.

4. Malice - it denotes hatred or a desire for revenge.

5. Intent -

the purpose or design with which the act is done and involves the will to do the act

Methods of Proof in Arson

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Most of the physical evidence in arson is often destroyed. To prove arson was committed, Corpus Delicti (the
Body of the Crime) must be shown and the identity of the arsonist must be established.
What is Corpus Delicti?
It is the fact of that crime was committed.
Factors involved
1. Burning
that there was fire that may be shown by direct testimony of complainant, firemen responding to the
crime, and other witnesses of the fire incident. Burned parts of the building may also indicate location.
2. Crimina1 Design
a willful and intent action done must be shown. The presence of incendiary devices, flammable
substances/materials such as gasoline and kerosene may indicate that the fire is not accidental.
3. Evidence of Intent
when valuables were removed from the building before the fire, the ill-feeling between the accused and
the occupants of the building involved or burned - absence of effort to put off the fire and such other indications.
Points of Origin of Fire
Initially, the important point to be established is the point of origin of the fire, or what particular place in the building the fire
started. This may be obtained or established by an examination of witness/es by the arson investigator, by inspection of
the debris at the fire scene, and by studying the fingerprint of fire
The fingerprint of fire
This occurs during the free-burning stage of the fire, or when it undergoes pyrolytic decomposition or heated gases move
upward on the walls leaving a burnt pattern.
Witnesses must be questioned as to:

His identity;
What attracted his attention;
The time of observation;
His position in relation to the fire at the time of his observation;
Exact location of the blaze;
The rapidity or the speed of spread of the fire;
Color of flame and odor if he/she is in position to observe this;
Size and intensity;

Any other person in the vicinity seen by the witness.

Note Fire Setting Mechanism:

electrical system
mechanical means
chemical methods
Fires are set by:
1. Persons with motives.

those with desire to defraud the insurer

employees or such other person who has grievance
those with desire to conceal evidence of crime
those who set fire for purposes of intimidation.
2. Persons without motive

those who are mentally ill

pathological fire-setters

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Pyros (pyromaniac)

In determining motive, the arson investigator concentrates on the three (3) Major Factors
1. Point of Origin
2. Modus Operandi
3. Beneficiaries
What are the common motives of arsonist?

1. Economic Gain
Insurance fraud - benefits
Desire to dispose merchandise - loss of market value being out of season, lack of raw materials, over supply of

2. Profit by the Perpetrator other than the Insured Person

Insurance agent wishing business with the insured person
Business competitors plan to drive others
Person seeking job as personnel protection
Salvagers and contractors wishing to contract another building.

3. Concealment of Crime
when the purpose of hiding a crime or committing a crime, arson was used as a means.

4. Pyromania
the uncontrollable impulse of a person to burn anything without any motivation.
Abnormal youth - epileptics, imbeciles and morons
Hero type - a person responsible setting a building on fire and pretends to discover it, turn the
alarm or make some rescue works to appear as hero.
Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
Sexual Deviates and Perverts
Development of Prime Suspects
This identification results from the full development of leads, clues and traces, the testimony of persons particularly
eyewitnesses and the development of expert testimony.

Techniques used in investigating Arson Incidents

search of the fire scene for physical evidence

protection of the scene
mechanics of search
collection and preservation of evidence
laboratory aids
background study of policy holders, occupants of the premises, owner of the building or other
person having major interest in the fire.
interview and interrogations of person/s who discovered the fire, the person who activated the
fire alarm, firemen, and eyewitnesses.
Tell Tale Signs
These signs maybe obvious that the first fireman at the fire scene will suspect arson:
1. Burned Building
the type of building may indicate a set fire under certain circumstances. A fire of considerable size at the time the first
apparatus arrives at the scene is suspicious if a modern concrete or semi-concrete building is involved.
2. Separate fires
when two or more fire breaks out within a building, the building is certainly suspicious.
3. Color of smoke

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some fire burn with little or no smoke but there are exceptions to this. The observation of the smoke must be made at the
start of the fire since once the fire has consumed a major proportion; the value of the smoke is lost, because the smoke
will not indicate the material used by the arsonist.

When white smoke appears before the water from the fire hose comes in contact with the fire,
it indicates humid materials burning. Examples: hay, vegetables, phosphorous with garlic odor.
Biting smoke indicates lack of air but if accompanied large flames it indicates petroleum
products and rubber.
Reddish-brown smoke indicates nitrocellulose. SI,
H2, SO4, HNO3, HCl.
Indication of Color of Smoke and Fire
Color of Smoke
Black smoke with deep red flame
Heavy brown with bright red flame
White smoke with bright flame
Black smoke with red and blue green
Purple-violet flame
Greenish-yellow flame
Bright reddish-yellow flame
4. Smoke Marks

Petroleum products such as tar,
plastics, etc.
Nitrogen products
Magnesium products
Potassium products
Chloride and manganese products
Calcium products

an experienced investigator will determine the volume of smoke involved at a fire and the character as residue deposited
on walls or elsewhere. Smoke marks have often been of assistance in determining the possibility of a fire having more
than one place of origin.
5. Color of Flame

The color of the flame is a good indicator of the intensity of the fire, it is an important factor in
determining incendiarism.
A reddish glow indicates heat of about 5000 C., a real light red about 1000 C
Red flames indicate presence of petroleum products
Blue flame indicates use of alcohol as accelerant
6. Size of fire
The size of fire is important when correlated with the type of alarm, the time received and the time of arrival of the first
responder at the fire scene. Fire makes what might be termed a normal progress. Such progress can be estimated after
an examination of the material burned in the building, and the normal ventilation offered to the fire. The time element and
the degree of headway much by the flames became important factors to determine possible incendiarism.
7. Direction of Travel
While it is admitted that no two fires burn in identical fashion, yet it can be shown that the fire makes normal progress
through various types of building. Considering the type of construction, the building materials, combustibility of contents,
channel of ventilation and circumstances surrounding the sending of alarm, an experienced investigator can determine
whether a fire has spread abnormally fast.
8. Intensity
The degree of heat given off by a fire and the color of its flame often times indicate that some accelerant has been added
to the material normally present in a building and the investigator must look further for more evidence used of such
accelerant. Difficulty in extinguishing the fire is often a lead to suspect presence of such fluid or liquid as gasoline and
9. Odor
The odor of gasoline, alcohol, kerosene and other flammable liquids which are often used as an accelerant is a
characteristics, and often times an arsonists is trapped because of this tell tale sign. Most of fire-setters are inclined to use
substances which will make the blaze certain and at the same time burn up any evidence of their crime.
10. Condition of Content

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Persons tending to set their house on fire frequently remove objects of value either materially or sentimentally. Store and
other business establishments remove a major portion of their content or replace valuable merchandise with, out of style
11. Doors and windows
Locked doors and obstructed entrance and passageways are sometimes point to an attempt to impeded firemen in their
operation to put out the fire. Doors and windows showing signs of forced entry may point to arson preceded by burglary or
arson by someone without a key to the premises.
12. Other Suspicious Circumstances
Interested by-standers of familiar faces and discovery of some objects which might be part of a mechanical fire-setting
device among debris.
Arson and other crimes involving destruction

It is the intentional or malicious destruction of property by fire.

The Legal Aspects of Arson/Fire Investigation

1. It is the concern of the fire investigator to prove malicious intent of the offender. Intent must be proved, otherwise no
crime exist.


The law presumes that a fire is accidental, hence criminal designs must be shown.


Fire caused by accident or criminal design must be shown.


Fire caused by accident or negligence does not constitute arson.

Basis of Criminal Liability in Arson:

1. Kind and character of the building burned;
2. Location of the building;
3. Extent of value of the damage;
4. Whether inhabited or not.
Destructive Arson is committed by burning of the following:

1. Any arsenal, shipyard, storehouse, military installation, powder or firework factory, ordinance,
storehouse, archives or general museum of the government;
2. Any passenger train or motor vehicle in motion, or vessel out of ports;
3. In an inhabited place, any storehouse or factory of inflammable or explosive materials; and
4. Any theatre, church, cockpit arena, or other buildings where meetings are held, when occupied by numerous
Other forms of Arson
Setting fires to any buildings, farmhouse, warehouse, hut shelter, or vessel in port, knowing it to be occupied at the time
by one or more person/s;
Building burned is a public and purpose is to destroy evidence kept therein to be used in legislative, judicial or
administrative proceedings, irrespective of the damage, if the evidence is to be used against the dependant of any crime
punishable under existing law;
Burned building is a public and the purpose is to destroy evidence kept therein to be used in instituting prosecution for
punishment of violators of law, irrespective of the amount of damage.
Arson of Property of Small Value (Art. 323, RPC)

1. Burning of any uninhabited hut, storehouse, barn, shed, or any other property;
2. Value of property does not exceed twenty five pesos (25.00).
3. Under circumstances clearly excluding all danger of the fire spreading.
Crimes involving Destruction

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Offender causes destruction by any of the following means:


discharge of electric current;
inundation, sinking or stranding of a vessel;
taking up the rails from a railway, track;
malicious changing of railway signals for the safety of moving train;
by using any other agency or means of destruction;

7. destroying telegraph wires and telegraph post or those other communication system.
Article 325, RPC
Burning of ones own property as a means of committing Arson. This article punishes the burning of ones, own property
for the purpose of committing arson or great destruction of property.
Article 326, RPC
Setting fire to property exclusively owned by the offender. This article provides the purpose of the offender to:

defraud or cause damage to another, or

damaged is actually caused upon anothers property even such purpose is absent, or
thing burned is a building in an inhabited place.

P.D. No. 1613 - Amending the Law on Arson

Special Aggravating Circumstances in Arson

1. If committed with intent to gain;

2. If committed with the benefit of another;
3. If the offender is motivated by spite or hatred towards the owner or occupant of the property
4. If committed by a syndicate (three or more persons).
Prima Facie Evidence of Arson
1. If the fire started simultaneously in more than one part of the building or establishment;
2. If substantial amount of flammable substances or materials are stored within the building not
necessary in the business of the offender nor for household use;
3. If gasoline, kerosene, petroleum, or other flammable or combustible substances or materials soaked
therewith or containers thereof, or any mechanical, electrical, chemical, or electronic contrivance
designed to start a fire, or ashes, or traces of any of the foregoing are found in the ruins or premises
of the burned building or property;
4. If the building or property is insured for substantially more than its actual value at the time of the
issuance of the policy;
5. If during the lifetime of the corresponding fire insurance policy more than two fires have occurred in
the same or other premises owned or under the control of the offender and/or insured;
6. If shortly before the fire, a substantial portion of the effects indured and stored in a building or
property had been withdrawn from the premises;
7. If a demand for money or other valuable consideration was made before the fire in exchange for the
desistance of the offender or for the safety of the person or property of victim.
Searching for Evidence
The safest procedure is for the investigator to start at the top of the heap and carefully removing the objects one
by one, laying them aside until reaching the bottom where he will find the pot of gold, the evidence.
Steps in Tracing the Origin of Fire and Searching for Evidence

1. External/Outside Survey

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careful conduct of inspection to the burned building

2. Internal/Inside Survey
enter the building to correlate the same with the outside survey of the structure in question
3. Locate the point of origin of fire, the ceiling area must checked first.
Look for Prima Facie Evidence of Arson

1. Entering the Building: When entering the building, the investigator should observe the
2. Look for mark on doors and windows not burned for possible indication of forcible entry.
3. Notice whether the intruder has discarded tools used for forcible entry.
4. Notice unusual arrangement of the building content.
5. Stocks or substitution of stocks, new expensive stocks have been removed, substituted by second hand or old stocks
Guidelines in the Investigation of Arson:

I. Arrival and Observation

observe person/vehicle leaving the area
characteristics of person/vehicle leaving the area
unusual road/street condition
barricade showing the progress of response
vehicle parked in such a manner as to create obstruction to the fire scene.


identify the person who called the fire department

first person who leave the fire scene
did the fire occur during or after business hour?
Was it during daytime or night time?

Condition of traffic in the area.

II. The Fire Scene:
Protecting the Fire Scene

Cooperation of the firemen and the Police

Assignment of guards
Mechanics of Search

Sifting of the Debris
Location of the point of origin o(the fire
General Rules/SOPs
Collecting and Preserving of Evidence

Assistance .of Qualified Experts
Handling of Physical Evidence

Forwarding of Physical Evidence

II. Post Investigation
Among the most likely method to be used by investigators are the recording of the facts noted at the fire scene, sketches
and photographs as well as statements taken from the witnesses. And other sources of information that maybe useful in
developing the investigation and completing the reports, fire inspection reports and financial reports.
All notes should be thorough, accurate, detailed and neat so that they are easily to transcribe and/or read. They will
readily assist in correlating observations and developing leads. These notes are the principal basis of all reports the
investigator makes and submits.

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The Fire Investigation Report
It is the final written results of taking notes, recording observations and interviewing witnesses. It includes the written
results of the construction and size of the burned structure, what the firemen observed and encountered upon their arrival
at the fire scene, the color of the smoke and flame, and the intensity and location of the fire.
Inventory of Evidence
As the evidence is collected and marked for identification purposes, it should be entered on some type of inventory sheet.
In all cases, it will improve the admissibility of evidence by establishing chain of custody necessary to prove during the
trial on an arson case.


Sec.8 Prohibited Acts- The following are declared as prohibit act and omission;
a. Obstructing or blocking the exit ways or across the buildings clearly marked for fire safety purposes, such as but
not limited to aisles in inferior rooms, any part of stairways, hallways, corridors, vestibules, balconies or bridges
leading to a stairway or exit of any kind, or tolerating or allowing said violators;
b. Constructing gates, entrances and walkways to building components and yards and temporary or permanent
structures on public ways, which obstruct the orderly and easy passage of fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
c. Prevention, interference or obstruction of any operation of the fire service, or of duly organized and authorized
fire brigades;
d. Obstructing designated fire lanes or access to fire hydrants:
e. Overcrowding or admission of persons beyond the authorized capacity in movie houses, theaters, coliseums,
auditoriums or other public assembly buildings, except in other assembly areas on the ground floor with open
doors sufficient to provide safe exits;
f. Locking fire exits during period when people are inside the building;
g. Prevention or obstruction of the automatic closure of fire doors or smoke partitions or dampers;
h. Use of fire protective of fire fighting equipment of the fire service other than for fire fighting except in other
emergencies where their use are justified;
i. Giving false or malicious fire alarms;
j. Smoking in prohibited areas as may be determined by fire service or throwing of cigars, cigarettes, burning
objects in places which may start or cause fire;
k. Abandoning or leaving a building or structure by the occupant or owner without appropriate safety measures;
l. Removing, destroying, tampering or obliterating any authorized mark, seal, sign or tag posted or required by the
fire service for fire safety in any building, structure or processing equipment; and
m. Use of jumpers or tampering with electrical wiring or overloading the electrical system beyond its designated
capacity or such other practices that would tend to undermine the fire safety features of the electrical system.
6.6 Study of fire in relation to the National Building Code
Building Code
A standard rules for safety in the construction of buildings. Building codes vary in their fire-resistance
requirements in accordance with the occupancy classification.
Building Code Requirements
1. Intended Occupancy and Use
2. Life Safety
3. Fixed Fire Protection System
4. Spacing of Structures 5. Height Requirements
6. Fire Retarding Features
Intended Occupancy and Use
A building design is based upon the occupancy of the individual structure, considering both the combustibility of
the contents and the human factors of occupancy. Buildings wherein large occupants are assembled such as dormitories,
schools, hospitals, where crowds may generate panic hazards, call for a higher and greater degree of fire safety

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protection than do warehouses and building which are less populated. Buildings that contain high combustible materials
call for a greater degree of fire resistance in the structure.
Life Safety
The provision of adequate exits is the most important feature in designing a building for life safety. Once fire is
notified, occupants can leave the building in the least possible time through exits free from fire, heat, and smoke. Although
panic in a burning building may be uncontrollable, it can be eased with the measures designed to help prevent panic-an
example of this is the exit signs. Panic seldom develops in a burning building as long as the occupants are moving
towards exits that have no obstructions in the path of travel.
The life safety factor is affected by many building designs and features-designs and features that prevent, reduce,
or retard the spread of the fire, such as: fire stops, fire walls, and fire doors.
Fixed Fire Protection System
Fixed fire protection system installed will be in accordance with sound economical and engineering practices.
These systems insure the maximum life safety-or maximum degree of property protection where the size, type of
construction, occupancy, or other conditions create severe monetary fire-loss potential.
Spacing of Structures
Planning and construction of an adequate separation of buildings and structures is very important to prevent the
spread of fire from an adjacent building or from area to area. Spacing requirements that restrict types of occupancies or
specified areas have an important bearing upon fire safety. Consideration will be given to convenience, efficiency, and
savings. When buildings have different occupancies and different types of construction are adjacent, maximum spacing
requirements have to be observed.
Height Requirements
Owing to the life hazard involved, it is a good practice to limit the height of structures that have an unusually high degree
of combustibility.
The height of buildings of masonry or concrete wall and wood construction is generally limited to a height assumed to be
the maximum at which the fire departments can operate and fight fire effectively, working from the street level. The
operational limit is usually three (3) or four (4) stories. Wood frame construction is generally given lower height limits. Fire
resistive, buildings are commonly permitted without any height limit, on the theory that the structural integrity of the
buildings will be maintained.
Fire Retarding Features
While a facility is still being designed, everything possible should be planned and done to make the facility eventually fire
safe. Fire retarding features must be specified in the plans. For the safety of personnel, important provisions in preventing
the spread of fire (both vertically and horizontally in buildings should be constructed).
a. Fire Stops
Wood is used as a fire stop, it must be at least 2 inches thick. Concealed spaces in the building should be filled with
noncombustible material. Fire stops must be inspected during the construction.
b. Fire Partitions
Fire partitions are installed to separate areas of hazardous occupancies from areas of ordinary or light hazard
occupancies that resist the passage of fire from one area to another. Fire partitions must be constructed to have fireresistance ratings of 1 or 2 hours. The degree of fire resistance will be governed by the following factors:

type of building construction;

size of the hazardous area;
the severity of the fire hazard.
c. Fire Walls
Fire walls are installed for the purpose of preventing the passage of fire from one building to another, or from one fire area
of a building to another area. Fire wall must be structurally sound and may serve as an important wall if no combustible
structural members are framed into the walls. It has a particular fire resistance rating depending on its construction and
thickness. Fire walls must have a parapet with a minimum height of three (3) feet above the roof for all types of roof
construction except roofs top floor assemblies with a minimum fire-resistance rating of two (2) hours. Wing walls are

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required except where exterior walls of building are of concrete or made up of masonry construction. Fire walls will be
bonded into exterior walls.
Combustible eave construction should be interrupted by fire wall parapets corbelled out two (2) feet beyond the building
wall. Fire wall returns at exterior building walls will be twenty (20) feet long of unbroken exterior concrete or masonry
without windows, doors, or other openings, and without combustible cornices or roof overhangs.
Miscellaneous Hazards
The following are some of the hazards that can be found everywhere:
1. Sparks
Live sparks from chimneys, refuse burners, stacks, and other similar sources must be given priority consideration. During
periods of low humidity and high wind velocity, special attention or precautions must be taken in those areas where fire
risk is possible or not negligible.
2. Mechanical Devices
Engines of any type, or other machines in which friction is created, are possible sources of fire. An overheated bearing of
an engine or machine is one good example. Elimination of lint and dust from the surroundings of the moving mechanical
device, an all excessive flammable lubricants should be cleaned or remove promptly to avoid possible combustion created
from friction. Grinding wheels and other spark-producing equipment are a frequent cause of fires and should not be
allowed in areas which might contain highly flammable gas or vapors. Neither should flammable material of any type be
left in an area where sparks may fall upon them.
3. Acids and other Chemicals
All kinds of strong acids, such as nitric, sulfuric, and hydrochloric, although they are not themselves flammable or
supporters of combustion.
4. The chief hazard of these acids is the possibility of their leaking or spilling from their containers. Fire or explosion is
possible if they are come in contact with other acids.
HEAT may cause nitric and hydrochloric acids to expand and burst their containers. Strong acids should be stored in a
cool compartment unexposed to the hot sun and free from all flammable materials. Nitric Acids is capable of igniting some
flammable materials. Sulfur melts and flows while burning. It should be stored away from heat and other chemicals.
Handling of sulfur creates sulfur dust, which is subject to explosions. Phosphorous, which ignites spontaneously upon
contact with air, is poisonous and is a serious fire and personnel hazard. It should be kept under water in a tin container in
complete isolation from other chemicals. Care should be taken to prevent mechanical injury to the container.
Chlorine a heavy, greenish, poisonous gas, given off by many manufacturing processes. Is not flammable itself but may
cause fire or explosion when in contact with ammonia, turpentine, or finely powdered metals. Ventilation is of paramount
Chlorates, nitrates, and peroxides are all hazards because they emit large quantities of oxygen when heated. Some of
them may be detonated or explode when in contact with materials such as: starch, sugar, dust, organic matter, and sulfur
compounds. Many peroxides may ignite nearby flammables when exposed to moisture.
5. Coal-Tar Derivatives
Coal-tar derivatives in both crude and refined forms are being used quite extensively. Dyes, medicines, and explosives are
manufactured from these coal-tar products. Since coal-tar derivatives are hazardous, many fires and explosions have
been caused by carelessness. The preparation handling and storage of these materials require the same precautionary
methods and do gasoline, benzene, and similar flammable liquids.
6. Effects of the Sun
The sun is frequently responsible for fires, though it usually assisted by manmade implement. A forest fires have been
known to start from discarded bottles or other fragments of glass left by careless campers. The sun rays, shining through
a piece of glass which may be ideally curved and placed as to act as a lens, are concentrated so as to ignite a piece of
paper. Similarly, curtains can be ignited by a window pane containing a bubble or some other irregularity. Fire may also
result from the suns shining through such things as laboratory flasks, fish bowls, water bottles, and concave mirrors
(which reflects heat.). The sun also contributes to spontaneous heating, thus aiding ignition. The possibility that the sun
will start a fire is somewhat remote. However, when we consider the numerous conditions which may create these so
called freak fires and the fact that any of them may completely destroy a building, we realize that these possibilities given
careful consideration.