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NCJ Number
Fire and Arson Investigator Volume: 43 Issue: 4 Dated: (June 1993) Pages: 35-39
J E Norton
Date Published
5 pages
Fire and arson investigations are discussed in terms of the importance of ethics in fire investigation and the impact of faulty fire analysis on the lives of those under investigation.
Ethical problems and misconduct in professions and institutions are a source of widespread public concern. In fire investigations, public administration, the administration of criminal and civil justice, and the administration of insurance claim files are joined by the common goal of showing how and why the fire occurred. Sentimentality should not be involved in the work of solving fires, but empathy must be present. Professionals must continuously upgrade their education, thoroughly analyze the facts in a particular case, and act without bias in determining the cause and origin of a fire. They must also be aware that mistaken allegations of negligence or arson can have major financial and emotional consequences for property owners and their families. The costs of thorough investigations can be high, and funding limitations require agencies to set priorities for their spending. Nevertheless, fire departments and insurance companies are better able than property owners to afford these costs. Finally, arson investigators must always recognize that it is more important to protect the innocent than to convict the guilty.


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