The importance of the legal photograph in forensic fire scene investigation 77
case may be, photographs are taken of the installations (electricity, gas, heat,
extinguishing installations etc.), a priority being switchboards, switches, sockets
etc. These objects are photographed first in relation to the objects and traces in
their close proximity in order to give the forensic investigator the possibility to
determine their position in relation to the others and to allow ascertaining the
direction in which the fire spread. For example, if a fire had as ignition source a
cigarette left on a bed or an armchair, the bed or the armchair shall be
photographed in relation to the furniture and walls around to highlight the area
with more intense thermo-degradation.
Then, the fire marks and each object shall be photographed individually,
using a measuring instrument (ruler, measuring tape, decimetre tape etc.) to help
establish the dimensions by examining the photograph.
When the light conditions for photograph taking are not the most suitable,
the main objects shall be lit using artificial light sources.
d) The detail photograph is achieved so as to render the metric details of the
objects and traces photographed. To elucidate the cause and circumstances in
which the fire occurred and spread, it is mandatory to apply a detailed
- fire specific traces, such as the fire outbreak and the fire marks represented
by all the traces (visible and (sometimes) measurable effects) after
extinguishment, resulting from the fire: damage or thermo-degradation of
combustible materials, collapse of structures, mechanical deformation, surface
thermal effects (carbonization, oxidation, colour changes), melting, expansion,
smoke and soot deposits etc.
In some cases, photographing the fire marks is difficult because adequate
lighting cannot be provided due to faulty lighting installation and the lack of
natural light, especially in large premises. In this case, artificial light sources shall
be used. In other cases, the fire marks must be photographed on sectors,
especially in areas with extensive carbonization.
- traces created by people (mainly traces of hands, feet), transportation
means, burglary/forced entry instruments. When photographing them, the
manner in which the traces were created (static, dynamic, surface or depth)
should be taken into account;
- objects (wicks, lighters, matches) or traces of flammable substances
(gasoline, diesel, oil etc.) used in the fire in case of arson.
It is mandatory to photograph doors and windows on both sides, as well as
all the walls of the premises, not only the wall closest to the fire outbreak, in
order to allow a comparative evaluation.
8 S. Calot, Gh. Popa, G. Sorescu, S. Dolha, Research on fire causes, Universul Juridic Publishing
House, Bucharest, 2010, pp. 231-240.