When to use

Use these steps when a fire has occurred. The steps will determine who will investigate the fire and which forms need to be completed during Level 4 COVID-19 pandemic response. See Appendix-A for a Decision support flow diagram for investigations under this procedure.


  • Officer in Charge (OIC) or
    • Specialist Fire Investigator (SFI)
  • Controller/Principal Rural Fire Officer (PRFO)
    • Wildfire Investigator, (WFI)-or Principal Rural Fire Officer (PRFO), if no WFI is on call for wildfires.
  • Fire Research Investigation Unit (FRIU)


This procedure contains the following content:

Investigation steps

Step 1

The Officer in Charge or Controller/PRFO investigates the fire

If the fire... then...
  • Involves large loss and is suspicious
  • Is nationally or regionally significant
  • Involves fatal or serious fire injury
  • Is a significant fire within DOC land or commercial forest
  • Is there a likelihood of prosecution, or is it related to serial fire setting?
    • Note: At on call senior officer discretion cognisant of minimising unnecessary exposure.
  • Notify Police if suspicious or serious injury or fatal fire
  • Continue to step 2 for all further options
  • Large loss and is suspicious – will typically be:
    • Suspicious structure fires sustaining damage. The SFI should contact the OIC to determine the extent of the damage and likelihood of criminal prosecution to help inform their response decision.
      • Note: This includes homes
    • Suspicious fires resulting in little or no damage should be left to OICs to report through SMS. 
    • Requests for SFI attendance received from Police should be referred to the on-call Senior Officer, or by calling the FRIU on 0508 347 3468
    • Suspicious fires that involve minor damage – the fire investigation will be completed by the OIC. OIC’s are encouraged to phone or video call SFI’s for advice if required. Information about fires that involve children should be passed on to FAIP.
  • Nationally or regionally significant? E.g. fires that:
    • potentially cause many jobs losses or loss of key employer to area
    • cause loss of a business on which many other businesses are dependent
    • multiple structures lost in one fires
    • result in historical loss e.g. registered by Heritage NZ
    • Marae wharenui (meeting house)
    • Regional or national political significance
  • Fatal or serious fire injury? Injuries that are fire related and life threatening.
  • Significant fire within DOC land or Commercial forest – e.g. fires that have caused loss of a wildlife habitat, major loss of bio diversity or in commercial forests that are likely to result in an insurance claim.
Does not involve any of the above
  • OIC/ PRFO conducts investigation
  • Continue to step 5.


Step 2

Request contact by a Specialist Fire Investigator, or Wildfire Investigator via ComCen.

If... then...
The Specialist Fire Investigator determines that they are not required to respond
  • Continue to step 3.
  • If the SFI is unsure whether they should respond, SFIs are to call their PAFRM or the FRIU on Ph. 0508 347 3468 for advice.
The Specialist Fire Investigator responds
  • Specialist Fire Investigator investigates and reports on the fire – e.g. Mpad or SMS comments
  • Continue to step 4
The Specialist Fire Investigator is not available
  • Officer in Charge/PRFO should ring the Fire Research Investigation Unit (0508 347 3468)
  • The FRIU will provide advice and assist where possible
  • Continue to step 3

Steps 3-5 and Notes


  1. The Officer in Charge/ controller (PRFO) conducts the investigation
  2. The Officer in Charge/Controller (PRFO) completes the Preliminary Fire Investigation form
  3. The Officer in Charge/Controller (PRFO) completes the SMS incident report.


  • Use the comments field to add additional information not captured in drop-down boxes, especially for fires where a Specialist Fire Investigator would normally attend
  • SMS incident reporting now allows notes and supporting images to be attached to the incident report.

Appendix-A Decision support flow diagram

Document Information
Owner Last reviewed Review cycle
National Manager Risk Reduction 2021-02-15 Six monthly
Record of amendments
Date Brief description of amendment
2021-02-15 Amendments to clarify this is for Covid-19 level 4 only, and authority to travel. Step 4a clarification in flowchart.
2021-02-15 Initial version

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