Meet the fire investigation team at Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), who attend more complex or serious incidents to help discover the cause of the fire and provide closure for the people impacted.
Fires start for a number of reasons and while the cause is often obvious, sometimes the circumstances can be more complex and require the specialist skills of Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) fire investigation team.
Fire scene investigators attend a range of incidents but particularly those where a crime has been committed, when someone has died, or when there has been extensive damage.
Their findings can be important for other agencies including Kent Police for criminal proceedings, a coroner’s court for inquest hearings, the Health and Safety Executive for workplace safety, and Trading Standards for product safety.
KFRS Fire Scene Investigator, Phil Bailey, said: ‘The first thing to do is establish the scene and protect any vital evidence. We talk a lot to the person affected by fire, whether that’s residents or a business owner, because we want to provide reassurance as to why we’re there and explain the next steps.
‘It’s really important, especially when somebody has died at the scene, for us to find out what’s happened to help provide closure for those people affected and help them through what is a really difficult time.’
Information gathered from a fire scene also helps to shape prevention activities provided by KFRS, which includes undertaking research and delivering education to schools, members of the public and businesses.
The investigation findings are vital for identifying fire-related risks and trends, which can then be shared with relevant organisations to offer safety advice. For example, identifying a fire safety risk with a specific electrical item could lead to products being recalled and improvements in future product design.
It also enables KFRS to review and adapt its firefighting tactics in response to changing risks, to ensure the service continues to effectively protect people who live and work across Kent and Medway.