Fire Experts (Model Examinations)

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Fire Chief or Fire Marshall

The fire chief or fire marshall is a member of a fire department who is trained in analysing fires and their causes.


Areas of Questioning Comments
  • employed with a regional fire department / position of fire chief or similar
  • duration of employment
  • education and training relevant to analysing fires / degree, certificates, or licences received
  • type of work that he or she does relevant to analysing fires
  • past experience as an expert witness / whether he or she was qualified in the past

Foundation of Opinion

Areas of Questioning Comments
  • on <date>, the expert attended the scene of a fire at <location>;
  • time of arrival
  • state of scene and structure when arriving / whether any observable signs of ongoing fire
  • method that the fire was extinguished
  • whether photographs were taken / diagrams made / enter as exhibit and review with witness
  • time of entering / inspecting the scene (may have had to wait for safety reasons)
  • extent of examination / areas examined
  • notable observations:
    • possible site of origin of fire
    • observable burn patterns on inside (e.g. floor, wall, or ceiling) or outside (e.g. walls, roof, neighbouring structures)
  • discovered any items relevant to fire (accelerants, etc.) / seized by police


Ask for an opinion with reasons for each of the following points:

Areas of Questioning Comments
  • location of fire's origin (inside vs outside, region of origin) / anything notable about region
  • cause of fire
  • source of fire's oxygen (usually source from outside)
  • whether accelerants were involved / notable signs of "spalling" (strong concentrations of burning)
  • speed of fire's progression / manner in which it would have progressed / where fire went
  • how the fire started / what was ignition
  • likelihood of source being electrical malfunctioning
  • likelihood of caused by accident or negligence such as discarded cigarettes or stove left on
  • likelihood of purely natural causes (lightening)
  • likelihood of a person would have started it intentionally