Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Investigations

We are here to assist you and your insurance company in determining the origin and cause of fires and explosions. This process can generate a lot of concerns and questions for you. We have designed this FAQ page to help answer some of those questions and ease your concerns about the process..  The questions below are commonly asked questions from people who have suffered a fire loss.  However, if you find you have more questions or concerns about your specific loss, that are not covered here, our contact information is listed as well. We are very sorry for your loss and we hope to provide you and your insurance company with the best service possible to help you through this process.  

Why does IRIS Fire have to investigate when the fire department already conducted an investigation?

Why does IRIS Fire investigate the fire if the cause is already known?

Why is the investigation going to take so long?

What happens to me? What am I supposed to do during this time about a place to live?

Am I allowed to be a part of the investigation and come to the scene when the investigators are there?

Can I get a copy of the report when you are finished with the investigation?

Why does it take so long to get a report?

What about the items you are taking from my house?

Will I get a bill for your investigation?

Do I have a choice whether or not I need your services for my case?

What exactly do the investigators at IRIS Fire do?

Can you provide me with some answers on the type of coverage I have with my insurance policy?

How do you protect undamaged portions of my home during the investigation?

Can I start cleaning up the mess and debris in my home?

Why does IRIS Fire have to investigate when the fire department already conducted an investigation?

Generally speaking, fire departments may not always have the time and resources necessary to thoroughly conduct an investigation into a fire loss. As a private investigation firm, we can provide the resources and time necessary to devote to your fire scene..  Another reason is generally, your insurance company needs to use an independent investigator and not use the fire department as their resource or agent to determine the origin and cause of your fire..
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Why does IRIS Fire investigate the fire if the cause is already known?

Typically we are assigned to investigate the fires that are classified as accidental fires or to validate, or test, what has already been reported or determined by the public agency. When an accidental fire classification is identified, it is important to investigate in order to identify the failure mechanism, or cause for the fire..  With a understanding of the cause of the fire, we may be able to prevent other fires from occurring in the future. If in fact there is an identifiable failure mechanism associated with the fire cause, it needs to be thoroughly investigated to identify that failure, and so we can notify the appropriate people or agencies who may be able to prevent future losses..
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Why is the investigation going to take so long?

The reasons it may take so long are many..  However, most delays occur if we have identified a product failure, an installation problem, or a maintenance problem as a potential cause for the fire..  If this is the case, we have to notify those “interested parties”..  We have to put them on notice and give them an opportunity to see the fire scene as we have seen the fire scene..  Typically, that notification comes from the legal counsel of your insurance company. It is customary to allow 5-10 business days for the interested parties to get to the scene.. Of course, there are a number of factors which may extend that time..

We all gather at the scene at the same time. We excavate and collect the evidence, and may take it back to a lab to evaluate it at a future date..    Once the investigation teams are finished at the scene, your insurance company may then move forward and start to repair the damages..

Sometimes the scene examination can occur much sooner if the issues are involving local interested parties. For example, if it is an installation issue on a heat producing device, those people are generally local and we can contact them much quicker, and the investigation can commence in a much shorter period of time. Generally speaking though, if it involves major appliances, or systems, it could take anywhere from 5-10 business days (or longer) before they are able to get out to the scene to afford them that opportunity..
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What happens to me? What am I supposed to do during this time about a place to live?

Your insurance policy provides you that information and we urge you to speak with your adjuster, or the agent who sold you the policy. A lot of times some remediation can move forward in other parts of the building, but we need to secure that area where the fire occurred. So even though it may appear the progress is halted, other activity can continue outside the fire scene to keep the process moving forwardd
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Am I allowed to be part of the investigation and come to the scene when the investigators are there?

You certainly are allowed if you want to. If you feel up to it, we would welcome you to come to the scene and if you have any particular information that you could provide everyone at once, it would certainly benefit you. However, it is not necessary that you show up. We at IRIS Fire generally allow the insureds to be at the scene and tell their story once to everyone there so they may not have to go through dozens of interviews. Remember however, even though we may conduct an interview with you relative to the fire, you can still plan on additional conversations and interviews with your insurance representatives.  But yes, you are more than welcome to come to the scene, but it is not necessary..  If you do not want to attend the scene investigation you do not have to, we can certainly accommodate whatever you feel comfortable with. Remember however, the fire scene has inherent dangers and for your own safety, we may not be able to allow you access to certain areas of the structure..
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Can I get a copy of the report when you are finished with the investigation?

The reports we produce, if one is requested by your insurance company, may be anywhere from a month to a couple years after the fire scene has been released, depending on the circumstances.  If and when those reports become available, you should make the request through your insurance company and your insurance company will respond to your request. IRIS Fire’s work product is property of the insurance company who hired us and requests for our reports should be directed to your carrier..
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Why does it take so long to get a report?

There are various reasons. An expert report may not be immediately requested and sometimes clients may not want a report, so one is never generated. But when and if they do ask, it could be a considerable length of time. It all depends on the circumstances of the fire and of the investigation, and the direction given to us as part of the assignment..
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What about the items you are taking from my house?

When IRIS Fire does an investigation, we routinely have to remove articles associated with the cause or origin of the fire. Typically they present with some fire damage, and may be part of what may have caused the fire or what we have to rule out as a cause for the fire.  It is important to IRIS Fire to not only be able to determine what caused the fire but also to be equally confident on what did not cause the fire. So we may take the toaster that caused the fire, but we may also take the equally damaged blender and microwave that sat next to it, just so we are able to prove what started and what could not have started the fire.. 

We will take pieces of evidence that will help prove or disprove the hypotheses developed during the investigation. If you want the items that were removed from your property returned, we can certainly return them. All we need from you is your request in writing, within 30 days, that indicates your desire to have the items returned to you..  If IRIS Fire does not have that in writing within the appropriate timeframe, we will follow the direction of your insurance company and continue to store the items, or dispose of it as necessary. Typically everything we take is not repairable and may be replaced as part of the fire damaged contents. But if for some reason you would like it back, we need to know in writing within 30 days, you can send the letter to the address provided on this website..
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Will I get a bill for your investigation?

No. The insurance company hires the experts needed for your case. IRIS Fire’s experts are used to determine the origin and cause of a fire or explosion. The services IRIS Fire is providing to the insurance company is paid for by the insurance company. You will not be billed for any of IRIS Fire’s investigation..
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Do I have a choice whether or not I need your services for my case?

That decision is reserved for your insurance company. The insurance company hires experts to explore your case as part of their service to you..  We are hired by the insurance company to determine the origin and the cause of the fire..  Even if it has been well-established as to what caused the fire, it may not have been sufficiently investigated to understand how it started and how might it be prevented in the future. Though it important to know what started the fire, it is equally important to understand the circumstances which led to the fire. It could be a mechanical or electrical issue, maintenance, or installation issue, or a host of other explanations. Whatever the circumstances, our goal is to explore all these circumstances for your protection and the prevention of future fires..
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What exactly do the investigators at IRIS Fire do?

We determine where the fire started. We determine how the fire started. And we determine, if possible and so directed, who or what may be responsible for the fire..
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Can you provide me with some answers on the type of coverage I have with my insurance policy?

IRIS Fire is not an employee of your insurance company. We are private, independent fire and explosion investigators, hired by your insurance company to conduct what is routinely called an origin and cause investigation. We have no knowledge about your policy and we have no information to provide you regarding your policy. That information is best addressed by your adjuster or agent..
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How do you protect undamaged portions of my home during the investigation?

Typically, we may not even have to access the undamaged portions of the home unless we are comparing similar items. For instance, if one home office had an appliance that we think may be responsible for the fire, we may have to go into another room in an undamaged portion of the home that has a similar appliance..  We may have to go in there and photograph it, and maybe even take the undamaged appliance and collect it for what is commonly referred to as an exemplar, or example, of what burned..  

If we are working in an area of the house that we have to bring debris through or take evidence from, we work very closely with the restoration crews hired by your insurance company who are there to remediate the damage and start to clean and repair some of your contents. We work very closely with them to make sure, and if need be, they assist us in protecting certain areas, or secure certain areas to keep people from gaining access to it. Generally speaking, if there is a room in the house that we do not have to access or was not directly damaged by the fire or smoke, our only reason for us to access those areas of the home will be for no other reason than documenting the scene..
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Can I starts cleaing up the mess and debris in my home?

We would prefer, initially, that no debris be removed from the house or property without first consulting IRIS Fire. If the debris is in or near the area of origin, it is in everyone’s best interest that it not be moved. If there are family heirlooms or personal effects that are in other areas of the home that have suffered smoke damage, and need to be taken out so they can start the restoration process and prevent additional damage, we would like to coordinate that with the restoration company or whoever you have chosen to remove and start cleaning your items. Also, most fires involving a product or an act of omission by someone require we leave the scene as undisturbed as possible to give other interested parties an opportunity to investigate the scene as well. We want all interested parties to be given the same opportunities as we have to see the scene..
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If you have a question or concern that you feel was not addressed, please contact us via phone or email..

Phone: 303.840.47055

Email:: irisfire.robert@gmail.comm