Houston Fire Department Investigator
Sample Test

Following are 20 multiple-choice questions. Select the best answer for each question.

All questions in this sample test are based on the source material on the official book list for the Investigator's Examination. Answer each question based on the Text from which it was taken. While questions on this sample test are from the textbooks, the practice tests prepared for the Investigator's workshop will also include questions from HFD Guidelines. Following each question, in bold face, is the source from which the question was taken. The test preparation workshop for the Investigator's Examination will consist of five original practice tests. Each practice test will consist of 100 questions.

Each question is also keyed to one or more of the six Job Tasks listed in the official test vendor's Study Aid.

There is a link to the correct answers following the last question.

Questions 1-6 are taken from Chandler, Fire Investigation, and are to be answered in accordance with this text.

1. At every fire or explosion scene, fire investigators must:

A. develop an analysis plan.
B. work in pairs.
C. have a direct communication link with the incident commander.
D. perform a site safety survey assessment.

p. 37; last para.
Tasks: 2, 6

2. The US Constitution protects the public from unreasonable search and seizure. Public investigators can search a fire scene on private property to make a determination of fire cause based on:

A. it being good for the general public.
B. common law.
C. statutory/case law.
D. local and national fire codes.

p. 162; para. 3
Tasks: 2, 5, 6

3. It is important for investigators to confirm a potential correlation between the clues and the actual proof of the fire cause. It is just as important for the investigator to:

A. prioritize the clues they relate to cause.
B. undertake the process of elimination.
C. use multiple and varied methods of confirmation.
D. understand the relationship between cause and effect.

p. 321; para. 4
Tasks: 2, 4, 5, 6

4. Which of the following are key to the process of discovering the motives of a person who set a fire to exact revenge against a specific person?

A. Physical evidence.
B. Documentary evidence.
C. Interviews.
D. Psychological testing.

p. 381; para. 6
Tasks: 1, 5, 6

5. It is only after a systematic search of the entire fire scene, using a scientific methodology, that a successful ______ can be tested to identify the area where the fire started.

A. hypothesis
B. theory
C. proof
D. correlation

p. 308; para. 3
Tasks: 1, 2, 4, 6

6. The key difference between intentional fires in general, such as logs in a fireplace, and incendiary fires is the intent. The key component in the frame of mind of the person who sets an incendiary fire is:

A. profit.
B. motive.
C. malice.
D. mental illness.

p. 328; para. 2
Tasks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6

Questions 7-12 are taken from Fire Investigator Principles and Practices to NFPA 921 and 1033, and are to be answered in accordance with this text.

7. Which of the following is not one of the three basic causes of fire patterns?

A. Heat.
B. Deposition.
C. Progression.
D. Consumption.

p. 50; col. 1, para. 3
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

8. Fire can spread to other areas of the fire building because of fugitive fuel gas. These fires may appear to be separate fires, but in reality they are related to the release of this gas. This phenomenon often occurs when:

A. HVAC systems are in operation after flashover has occurred.
B. sprinklers cannot control the fire in the incipient phase.
C. there are highly flammable combustibles in the remote areas of the building.
D. the gas is released for a period of time prior to ignition and is allowed to pool in other areas.

p. 111; col. 1, para. 5
Tasks: 2, 6

9. Unlike an administrative search warrant, a criminal search warrant is issued only upon:

A. the existence and submission of corroborated evidence.
B. a showing of probable cause, establishing that a crime has occurred and that evidence of the crime is believed to be located in the premises to be searched.
C. a showing of reasonable suspicion, establishing that a crime has occurred and that evidence of the crime is believed to be located in the premises to be searched.
D. submission of a signed affidavit by an authorized agent of a law enforcement agency with prior approval of an attorney from the jurisdiction in which the warrant is sought.

p. 140; col. 2, last para.
Tasks: 4, 5

10. Video photography has become a useful tool in fire investigations. A big advantage of using video is:

A. it adds speed to the documentation process.
B. the ability to orient viewers to the complete scene by recording complete views of important areas.
C. the opportunity to record evidence that may be destroyed by fire behavior or suppression operations.
D. it offers uninterrupted coverage of the operation and investigation.

p. 202; col. 1, para. 3
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

11. The point of the heat and flame vector analysis is to illustrate graphically:

A. the investigator's interpretation of the fire patterns.
B. the areas of greatest damage.
C. the relationship between heat and flame.
D. the totality of effects of heat and flame over time.

p. 235; col. 2, para. 2
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

12. The first step in the investigation of a vehicle fire is to determine an area of fire origin. The examination of the vehicle should begin by noting and documenting:

A. damage to the passenger compartment.
B. damage to the engine compartment.
C. the area of greatest burning intensity.
D. exterior damage patterns as indicators of the most intensely damaged compartments.

p. 360; col. 2, para. 3
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

Questions 13-14 are taken from Holtz, Effective Law Enforcement Report Writing, 5th edition, and are to be answered in accordance with this text.

13. To develop the reliability of information imparted by the anonymous tip, officers must engage in two critical procedures: comprehensive detail development; and:

A. reliability assessment.
B. establish probable cause.
C. independent verification.
D. critical analysis.

p. 33; para. 1
Tasks: 1, 5

14. If a report or incident is complex,. it can result in structure problems in the report. As a general rule, to correct structure problems:

A. present your observations in order of importance.
B. use an introductory paragraph as a report summary.
C. use a separate paragraph for each major observation, action or other relevant events.
D. record your observation, actions, and all relevant events in chronological order.

p. 67; #1
Tasks: 1, 5

Questions 15-17 are taken from Brannigan's Building Construction for the Fire Service, 5th edition, and are to be answered in accordance with this text.

15. Which of the following is cited as a characteristic of aluminum used in trusses and beams?

A. Heat can actually strengthen the connection points.
B. It melts at very typical temperatures.
C. It is infinitely malleable.
D. all of the above.

p. 79; col. 1, Aluminum
Tasks: 2, 6

16. The wood truss floor introduces a catastrophic new dimension into fire suppression in combustible buildings:

A. a truss void.
B. suspended ceilings.
C. greater concentration of oxygen.
D. weakened connections to the exterior walls.

p. 204; col. 1, top
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

17. Which of the following statements about Ordinary Construction is correct?

A. As a general rule, there is no effective fire separation within the ordinary construction building, either from floor to floor or within floors.
B. The use of composite walls has greatly reduced the lateral fire spread problem in masonry buildings.
C. The collapse potential of buildings of ordinary construction surpasses that of all other construction types.
D. There is no longer any limit to the height of ordinary construction buildings.

p. 245; col. 2, para. 3
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

Questions 18-20 are taken from Inbau, Reid, Buckley and Jayne, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 5th edition, and are to be answered in accordance with this text.

18. In the early stage of a criminal investigation, frequently the available information is insufficient for an investigator to make even a tentative determination whether the suspect is guilty or innocent. Which of the following is considered to be the best approach for an investigator in an interview in the early stage of a criminal investigation?

A. Assumption of guilt.
B. Assumption of innocence.
C. Assumption of a neutral, objective position.
D. Assumption of expertise.

p. 57; para. 3
Tasks: 2, 6

19. At the outset of the interrogation, the guilty suspect is closely evaluating the investigator's confidence in his guilt. Consequently, the authors recommend:

A. the investigator avoid any mention of guilt.
B. the investigator build a step-by-step case for the suspect's guilt.
C. the investigator be vague, leaving the suspect room to implicate himself.
D. the investigator initiate the interrogation with a direct statement indicating absolute certainty in the suspect's guilt.

p. 192; bottom to p. 193
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

20. Once the theme has been introduced and the investigator starts to develop it, there are three primary objectives with respect to handling denials: anticipate denials before they are voiced; discourage weak denials from being voiced; and:

A. confront strong denials with facts.
B. ignore denials.
C. evaluate denials that are voiced.
D. diminish the impact of the denials.

p. 258; #'s 1, 2, 3
Tasks: 2, 4, 6

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