Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence – A Detailed Lesson in Forensic Science

Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence is a detailed, interactive lesson in the forensics of fire investigations. The free module is part of Xplorlabs produced by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), the global safety science company responsible for the “UL listed” labels on things like extension cords, microwaves, and just about every other appliance in your house.

The Xplorlabs Fire Forensics module is an in-depth investigation into how fire investigators determine the cause of a fire in a home. Students begin the Fire Lab investigation by first learning about the elements necessary to create and sustain a fire. From there students will see videos and animations that illustrate how fires spread in a section called “live burns.” In that section you will find a detailed lesson plan that includes data on temperature, pressure, and oxygen levels that students need to apply to their forensic investigations.

After learning about how fires start and spread in the Xplorlabs Fire Lab, students then move on to a guided investigation with expert investigators. When the guided investigation is complete students are ready to conduct independent virtual investigations. In the independent virtual investigation section, students will be presented with 360 degree images of post-fire scenes. From those images and a few other clues, students will create a hypothesis and submit a claim as to the cause of the fire.

Applications for Education
Xplorlabs’ Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence is not an activity that students will or should complete in one sitting. It is designed to be completed over the course of a few days in a middle school setting.

While it is an obvious fit for middle school science classrooms, the Fire Forensics module could also be used in other classrooms to help students develop their skills in making observations and developing hypotheses based upon the information available to them combined with their prior knowledge. Check out the Teacher Guide for a road map to implement the module in your classroom and supporting content for the lesson.

One quick reminder before you begin using Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence with your students: please review all animations and videos before having students use the site. While there is nothing offensive, some scenes of home fires are detailed and could be frightening to younger students. In other words, if you have a student who was upset by a scene during fire prevention week at school, he or she might be upset by some of the scenes in the Fire Forensics module.

Disclosure: UL Xplorlabs is an advertiser on 


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