How 3D Laser Scanning Services Aid Fire Investigations

Unraveling the Mystery of How a Fire Starts

3D laser scanning services are being applied in many areas, including traffic crashes and fire investigations. Experts believe it can help in a broader range of investigations.

For example, the Singapore Civil Defense Force has successfully adopted 3D scanning services technology for documenting fire scenes. They advanced from using analog film cameras to digital cameras through the use of panoramic rotating digital cameras. 

Fire investigators would scan fire scenes to document burn patterns and the effects of the fire on the area of origin and unaffected spaces.

The Fire

One of the fires investigated using laser scanning technology caused the death of two people and left another person with a broken limb after jumping from the building to escape the fire.

The damage caused by this fire was so severe that it was impossible to read its effects and burn patterns. A team of experienced investigators tried to unravel this fire’s mystery, but none could agree where it originated.

It was not until these investigators partnered with a team of traffic crash investigators that they realized the usefulness of 3D laser scanning technology for fire investigation and documentation purposes. 

An object filmed or photographed in a scanned virtual world was positioned strategically to allow for accuracy. Upon reviewing the fire scene, investigators would use proprietary software to process the raw data, enabling them to match and place any captured images to determine the camera position. 

The investigators place the camera in the point cloud to match any photographed image to the real world. They could pinpoint where each object was located at the fire scene.

Related article: Mystery Solved: How 3D Laser Tech Cracked the 36 Pit Fire

Why Opt for 3D Laser Scanning Services Over Measuring Tape

Laser scanning technology uses imaging software to measure the geometry of an object and craft a 3D model. The selection of an investigating tool depends on the expected outcomes. 

Precision and accuracy requirements are considered when choosing which scene documentation tool to use during an investigation. Laser scanning helps crash investigators find the right balance between the implementation cost and the requirements. 

For example, it is crucial to document any object that may have stalled a short distance from the accident scene of a car accident scene. It is likely a non-calibrated measuring tape, and a laser scanner won’t be resourceful because it won’t be possible to calculate the vehicle’s speed at fault. But with laser scanning, investigators can accurately pinpoint the origin of a fire and its effects.

Based on these experiences, it is evident that 3D laser scanning services may not apply in all industries and areas of expertise. So, no matter how well-trained and experienced you are, be open to learning.

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