Fire investigations are similar to the scientific method

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DULUTH, MN– According to Duluth’s Deputy Fire Marshal Jon Otis fire investigations are very similar to the scientific method you learned in 5th grade.

“There is kind of a systematic scientific process that we have to go through in order to collect our evidence collect data and then create our hypothesis to ultimately come up with a conclusion,” Otis said.

However, instead of forming a hypothesis investigators must go into investigating with a neutral mindset.

“Well the first thing we do is that we do not go into an investigation thinking anything,” Otis stated

Once on the scene of the fire, questions are immediately asked.

“We talk to our first responders on scene we talk to our firefighters our incident commanders police officer and interview them on what they first saw again I’m not making any conclusions at that point I’m just collecting data.”

Investigators say while they have very advanced tools at their disposal, things like a camera and pen and paper can’t be overstated.

“The camera is an extension of our eyes and what we see and allows us to document the scene as it is,” Otis said.

A key component of the review process.

“Sometimes you will capture an image of something you think you see or you will capture an image of one thing and you may in review later actually look closer and find other evidence that you may have missed with your eye,” Otis said.

Investigations can even go beyond the scene itself.

“We look at financial records we do social media investigations we do different sorts of things where we try to use every tool to collect data and ultimately come to that conclusion,” Otis added.

A process that investigators say must be thorough ensuring every clue is analyzed.

John Cardinale

John Cardinale

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