An origin and cause investigation is a branch of forensic science wherein an individual or company must be licensed in order to practice it. It is focused on the conditions and circumstances of a fire. It is sometimes referred to simply as an arson or fire investigation.
There are three main goals of an origin and cause investigation. It is to figure out whether it is arson or not or to determine if a crime has been committed, to conclude how and where the fire started, and to offer clues to who is responsible for the fire. Although the origin and cause investigation is the most interesting branch of forensics, it is also the most difficult to practice because unlike other forensic investigations, to determine whether the cause of the fire is a crime or not is normally very hard.
Unlike other criminal cases like murder where the question always starts with who did the crime, a fire investigations’ basic question is how the fire started. It is very difficult to determine whether arson has occurred because almost all key evidence got destroyed in the fire. Normally, a fire investigator works with a forensic electrical engineer because almost all fire origins are caused by gas-powered appliances, electrical appliances, household wiring, air handling equipment and gas delivery systems. In an origin and cause investigation, it is important to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible to see if any patterns can be detected and if possible evidence can be collected.