Montgomery County Fire Marshal
501 N Thompson, Suite 102, Conroe, Texas 77301
Part detective, scientist, engineer, and law enforcement officer, the fire investigator represents the collusion of multiple careers rolled into one. It is the fire investigator who must explore, determine, and document the origin and cause of a fire or explosion. They must then establish what human actions were responsible for it, directly or indirectly.
Fire investigation, sometimes referred to as origin and cause investigation, is the analysis of fire-related incidents. Following mandates from State Law, the Montgomery County Fire Marshal's Office will begin an investigation to determine the origin and cause of a fire or explosion. Fire is often described as a rapid oxidation process that releases energy in varying intensities in the form of light (with wavelengths also outside the visual spectrum) and heat and often generates a byproduct of smoke. An explosion is a sudden increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases.
Fire investigation is one of the most difficult of the forensic sciences to practice. In most forensic disciplines, even the basic question of whether a crime has been committed is normally obvious. During a fire investigation, an entire process must be undertaken just to determine if the case involves a criminal episode or not. Arson investigators need to know not only basic science of fire behavior, but knowledge of many different areas of study (including construction, electricity, human behavior, etc). Investigations, whether criminal or not, must follow a systematic approach applying sound and proven methods. A fire investigator must look at what is left behind after an incident and obtain information to piece together the events that occurred in the moments leading up to the event. After doing so, he must prepare a detailed report, and if necessary prepare a criminal case charging those responsible. In this scenario, the investigator will often file charges, make arrests, and assist the District Attorney in case presentation through their testimony.