JST415 Foundations of Fire Investigation (8)

This subject introduces students to the concepts and principles of fire investigation which will be enlarged upon in later subjects. It will present the types of investigations to be carried out at fire scenes in order to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Emphasis is placed on fire scene preservation, examination and the early identification of fraud indicators, as well as exhibit handling. Students will be introduced to the behaviour of fire and the effects that fire has on materials and structures, in addition to workplace health and safety issues associated with working on a fire ground. The aim is to develop a world best-practice methodical scientific and professional approach to fire scene investigation.


Session 1 (30)
Manly Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: JST415. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to apply an understanding of fire ignition, combustion principles, fire dynamics and interpretation of fire patterns to conduct an initial investigation;
  • be able to apply a foundational/introductory understanding of the different types of fire events (structural fires, motor vehicle accidents and fires, electrical fires, explosions and wildfires) and human motivation and behaviour, to inform a fire investigation;
  • be able to analyse all the evidence to determine the fire origin and develop and test an hypothesis of the cause of the fire in order to prepare a brief and give evidence in a courtroom;
  • be able to apply investigative techniques such as observation, collection of evidence, and document the scene by note-taking and photography, to inform the production of final reports/statements;
  • be able to apply fundamental principles of scene and evidence preservation whilst establishing and maintaining a safe working environment; and
  • be able to recognise the differences between accidental, natural, incendiary/arson and undetermined fire cause classifications, with attention to fraud indicators.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Introduction to fire investigation
  • Chemistry of combustion
  • Gathering information
  • Safety at the scene
  • Scene preservation
  • Photography and note-taking
  • Fire patterns
  • Fire origin and cause determination
  • Passenger motor vehicular fires
  • Electrical fires
  • Explosives and explosions
  • The investigation of death by fire
  • Motives and human behaviour
  • Human behaviour in fires
  • Wildfire investigation
  • Courtroom procedures and awareness

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of JST415 in Session 1 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Fire investigation essentials
Fire investigation report

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.