Fire Investigation

I.     Course Prefix/Number: FIR 215

       Course Name: Fire Investigation

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

FIR 101 Introduction to Fire Science

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

This course offers an analysis of the causes of fires, the relationship of fire characteristics, and methods to identify traces of the cause or origin. Content includes recognition of equipment failures responsible for fires, incendiary fires, collection, prevention, and documentation of evidence substantiating fire causes, interrogation techniques in fire investigation and cooperation of fire investigating agencies.  

IV.   Learning Objectives

The objective of this course is to instruct the student with the basic strategic and tactical concepts of general firefighting. The student will discuss and classify the various types of losses caused by fires. Explain the responsibilities of fire scene investigators and discuss the analytical approach to fire investigation. The student will describe why is it critical to keep overhaul to a minimum to determine the area of origin, the presence and type of fuel was present, and what source of heat was the cause of ignition. The student will describe the problems the investigator must consider whenever human remains are discovered at a fire scene and the effects of fire on the human body and other pathological findings significant to the fire investigator.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  • Introduction
  • Basic fire methodology
  • Basics of fire science and fire patterns
  • Fire behavior and building construction
  • Types of fire losses
  • Combustion properties of liquid, gaseous, and solid fuels
  • Ignition sources Electrical causes of fires, explosions and explosive combustion
  • Chemical fires and hazardous materials
  • Role and responsibilities of fire scene investigators
  • Analytical approach to fire investigation and Laboratory services
  • Documentation of fire investigation
  • Managing the incident- Fire ground control during investigation
  • Fire-related deaths and injuries (human remains)
  • Arson as a crime and working with local, state, and federal partners
  • Releasing the report and the press

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures
  • Handouts
  • Videos
  • Case Histories
  • Scenarios
  • Class Discussion
  • Group Discussion
  • Individual Presentations

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Using References
  • Decision Making
  • Group Participation
  • Group Interaction
  • Class Discussion
  • Practical Exercises
  • Individual Presentations
  • Written Exam

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Required Text: Kirk’s Fire Investigation, Seventh Edition, Pearson Publishers, 2012
References: Fire Investigator: Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033, Fourth Edition, Jones and Bartlett, 2016

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grading Scale: A 90 - 100 points
B 80 - 89 points
C 70 - 79 points
D 60 - 69 points
F 59 & Below
Testing: Quizzes 20 points
Homework 20 points
In-Class Assignments 10 points
Presentation & Research 15 points
Mid-term Exam 15 points
Final Exam 20 points
TOTAL 100 points

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.