Fire Investigation: Essentials R0206

R0206 is being replaced by R0772. Interested students should apply for R0772 during the April 15-June 15, 2019 open application period.
Curriculum: Fire Investigation
Training Specialist

Lester Rich

Delivery type
10-Day On-Campus
Continuing education units
ACE recommendation
In the upper division baccalaureate degree category, four semester hours in fire science, fire arson investigation, or criminal justice.

This 10-day course utilizes the best practices in the fire investigation profession to instruct students in the science and techniques of modern fire investigation.  The course uses National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations and NFPA 1033, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator, along with other texts and references to provide comprehensive instruction for the adult learner. The course content is designed to meet or exceed the applicable sections of NFPA 1033, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator.

The course addresses the technical and scientific knowledge and skills needed to conduct successful fire and follow-up criminal investigations. Using a combination of classroom, student activities, demonstrations and group projects, successful methods are demonstrated for conducting science-based fire investigations that culminate, when appropriate, in prosecution for the crime of arson.

Upon completion of the course, the students will be equipped to identify the origin and cause of a fire, conduct a technically and legally sound investigation, and pursue the case through the judicial system. Subjects covered include health and safety, scientific method, fire dynamics, myths and legends, investigative resources, electrical fire investigations, origin and cause, evidence collection and preservation, documenting the scene, report writing, injury and fatal fire investigation, vehicle fires, case solvability, legal considerations, and motivation, interviewing and interrogation.

Students are required to:

  1. Bring a laptop, tablet or other electronic device suitable for course work. The course content is delivered via the NFA’s learning management system. Students will be provided instructions regarding how to access the content.
  2. Bring a copy of NFPA 921 (2017 ed.) and a copy of NFPA 1033 (2014) for use in the class. These documents are available online and at A paper or digital version is acceptable.
  3. Participate in two scene investigations at the practical exercise area, Fire Science Training Complex. National Fire Academy (NFA) provides helmets, safety glasses, gloves and disposable respirators. Students are required to provide scene work clothes, coveralls or Tyvek® jumpsuit and work boots.

Student pre-course materials and course syllabus:

Selection criteria

Priority will be reserved for federal, state and local fire service, law enforcement personnel, and prosecutors who are primarily responsible for fire/arson and explosion investigation and/or prosecution. These personnel include:

  • Fire/arson investigators.
  • State fire marshals.
  • Law enforcement personnel.
  • Criminal investigators.
  • District/state’s attorney’s staff.
  • Members of arson task forces.

Applicants who are not employed full time in the fire investigation field may be eligible. Applicants must submit a detailed letter from the chief of the department attesting to their position, duties and responsibilities as related to fire investigation and involvement with the prosecution of state arson laws, if any.


1.  Incident Command System (ICS)-100-level and ICS-200-level training.  Preferred courses are Q0462 and Q0463, available through NFA Online. Chief’s signature attests that the applicant has completed this required training.

2.  Successful completion of the following Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) Trainer modules (transcript MUST be submitted with application) through the CFI Trainer website (There are no costs or membership requirements to access these modules.)

  • Fire Investigator Scene Safety.
  • The Scientific Method for Fire and Explosion Investigation.
  • Introduction to Evidence.
  • Documenting the Event.
  • Physical Evidence at the Fire Scene.
  • Investigating Motor Vehicle Fires.
  • Introduction to Fire Dynamics and Modeling.
  • Investigating Fatal Fires.
  • Fundamentals of Residential Building Construction.
  • Search and Seizure.

Applicants must provide a copy of their CFI Trainer transcript and documentation to support the pre-requisite requirements at the time of application. Documentation (certificates, transcripts, certifications, and letters) must be clear, readable, concise and attached to the application at time of submission.

Post-course requirements


Student comments

It's reportedly the best class of its kind in the country and I believe it. I felt I gained a really solid foundation for initiating and carrying out a fire scene investigation.