Press release

Meet the Fire Investigation Team responsible for helping to convict Harwich arsonist

Andre Turner, Fire Investigation Manager
Andre Turner, Fire Investigation Manager

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) plays a crucial role beyond extinguishing fires. Every fire they attend is thoroughly investigated, and if there’s an indication of arson, the case is escalated to the highly trained Fire Investigation Officers.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have a 14 strong team of highly trained Fire Investigation Officers who cover the County. The team is supported by Fizz, ECFRS’s Fire Investigation Dog. Trained to detect accelerants and other signs of arson, Fizz and her handler Graham Currie, are essential members of the team.

The Harwich Arson Case

Last week, a 34 year old man from Harwich was sentenced to 5 years in prison by Chelmsford Crown Court for setting a series of fires, including one that badly damaged a historic lightship, the LV18.

Two Fire Investigator Officers led the investigation into the fire on LV18. With the assistance of Fizz and Graham, they uncovered crucial evidence that helped Essex Police secure a conviction.

They said: “Working with our team, including Fizz, allows us to uncover critical evidence that might otherwise go unnoticed. In this case, the collaborative effort was vital in securing a conviction and ensuring justice was served.”


Photo: scene from the fire of the LV18, crews watching live drone footage
Photo: Assessing the LV18 lightship fire using live drone footage

The Role of Fire Investigation Officers

When a fire is suspected to be deliberate or suspicious, the Fire Investigation Officers will work to analyse evidence from the scene to assist the Police in prosecuting those responsible. They also provide expert evidence on the origin and cause of a fire to Coroners and criminal or civil courts.

Andre Turner, Fire Investigation Team Manager emphasised the team’s expertise and collaboration with the Police:

“We want people to know that if they start fires deliberately we have the expertise to help the police track them down. Our fire investigation team is second to none and we are dedicated to helping the Police bring arsonists to justice.

“The conviction of the Harwich arsonists it just the latest in a string successful convictions we have helped with.  I’m proud of the work our fire investigation team have been involved with, it is testament to what can be achieved when emergency services work together.”

The successful conviction in the Harwich arson case highlights the critical role of the ECFRS Fire Investigation Team in protecting the community and bringing offenders to justice.

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