Instructions on using the FIRMsAPP

Security of your case / project / job name:

As the registered user, your case / project / job names are only accessible to you. You should never share your FIRMsAPP access, for example with your line manager, by giving anyone your log in details. This is a practice that is not advisable, for the sake of integrity. All of your cases / projects / job names will look like this to anyone attempting to view your data, including the App developers who will not possess your log in details:


This is in an automatically encrypted format within your personal profile in our secure database.

Therefore you can rest assured that your files are safe and only identifiable by you. Again, do not share your credentials with anyone as it is unique to you to make sure the integrity of your documentation is maintained and secure. By using standard HTML5, CSS3, PHP Yii2 Framework and a MySQL database being served from a standard web server in a secure UK based data centre, not even the programmers can directly identify your case file names from database!

If you have made a mistake with the reference or name for your case / project / job, go to the ‘dashboard’ icon at the top of the screen dashboard icon then select the ‘View All Cases’ box at the bottom of the screen. Beside your file name select the edit icon Edit button and make the necessary correction.

Completing the FIRMs:

BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE SCENE, having created a new case / project / job folder, start going through the FIRMs one at a time. You will either complete the FIRM or will ‘pause’ it. The complete process should not take you more than 10 to 15 minutes once you become familiar with the App.

Only 'Pause' the FIRM if the data you are waiting for will be available to you before you need to complete your report or interim report; as examples, you may be waiting for a telephone log or a CCTV recording to review.

Behind every decision box there is an ('i' info) button which will give text user guidance for that particular question.

There are four decisions you need to make as you progress through the FIRMs:

  1. YES
  2. NO
  4. PAUSE
  1. To answer the ‘YES’ decision box, you must know as a fact or have been given information from a credible source that the data is correct, accurate and not an assumption.
  2. To answer the ‘NO’ decision box, as with the previous ‘YES’ decision, you must know as a fact or have been given information from a credible source that the data is correct, accurate and not an assumption.
  3. If data is not available to you and unlikely to ever become available, select the box that indicates ‘DATA NOT AVAILABLE’, whether it is on a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ box as it is irrelevant within the FIRM which box it is attached to. It will simply follow a route that will identify at the end of that FIRM that, if the data is not available to refute or confirm questions that can clearly lead to ‘Unlikely to be responsible for the fire’, then it must be a potential hypothesis that needs to be tested and will lead to being ‘possibly responsible for fire’. This can then be tested, discussed and addressed within your report.
  4. Choose the ‘PAUSE’ box, rather than the ‘DATA NOT AVAILABLE’ box if data is likely to become available before you need to submit your report or interim report. This will allow you to proceed with that particular FIRM and complete it once you have that data. Examples could be that you are waiting to talk to a machine operator when they return to shift in a couple of days’ time, or you are going to review CCTV recordings over the next week or so. It is not advisable to choose the ‘DATA NOT AVAILABLE’ box then have to go back and change your decision as, remember, every decision you make is logged and may need to be explained in court.

  5. If, however, you need to submit an interim report BEFORE any data you are waiting for becomes available, you should choose ‘DATA NOT AVAILABLE’ and not choose the ‘PAUSE’ box, as you will not be able to produce and provide a decision log with your report.

    If at any time you make a mistake with your selection of answers, rectifying the mistake can be done quickly and simply by returning to that decision and pushing the ‘x’ button to the right of that question. You will then be asked: ‘Are you sure? This will remove the rest of the answers below this!’. If you answer ‘OK' then you will be able to select the correct answer.

    You can always re-open a case / project / job file at any time in the future to either continue or amend the FIRMs. For example, you may have paused a FIRM(s) pending a joint artefact examination or new data has become available, such as a mobile phone video recording and that new data means you need to return to a certain point within the appropriate FIRM(s) to continue the new route within that FIRM(s).

Printing/ Saving your complete ‘Decision Log’:

Use the ‘dashboard’ icon at the top of the screen dashboard icon to go back to your case ‘front end’ or to review all cases. You will see next to your cases, either ‘Continue’, ‘Re-Open’ or ‘Print PDF’.

  • Continue’: Click this box if you need to continue answering questions in your FIRMs for this case. This means that you have started but not completed all of the FIRMs.

    Once you click the ‘Continue’ box, you will then be able to see what has been completed and what is outstanding. This is invaluable for your case management if you have multiple investigations in progress. If a purple box says ‘Continue’, then you need to complete that FIRM and you will continue from where you left off. If a green box says ‘View Answers’ then opening that box will allow you to revisit all of the selections you made for that FIRM. It is here that you can delete an incorrect or updated decision, where the date and time of that update will be amended onto the decision log.
  • Re-Open’: If you have been in receipt of new data for an investigation where you have completed all of the FIRMs, you can re-open that folder and make the necessary amendments from the appropriate decision point within that FIRM. Remember, all changes will mean continuing from that point on within the FIRM and will include the date and time of that update; this change will be amended onto the updated decision log.
  • Print PDF’: By clicking this box, your personal database will generate a bespoke PDF document, merging all of the date and time stamped decisions that you have considered when determining the cause of the fire. It will also date stamp when that PDF was generated which will be your FIRMs version control method.

    Your case / project / job name will be detailed at the top of the log.

    You will note that the decisions are numbered sequentially in the order that they were considered. Beside the decision # will be the question ID reference number.

    You can then either save the PDF to your personal or organisation’s case management system to be subsequently appended to your report, forwarded to your line manager (or whoever needs it) or to print.

Potential Hypotheses:

By completing all of the FIRMs you will have demonstrated your systematic methodology as to how you have developed all of the existing hypotheses for your fire/explosion scene.

At the bottom of the decision log, you will see listed all of the potential hypotheses adjacent to the question ID number and the FIRM it relates to and the wording ‘Possibly Responsible for Fire’.

Some of the FIRMs, such as ‘FIRM #1: Process(ess) and Substance(s)’, may be listed several times; this is because you have determined that more than one of the sub-routes within that FIRM may be the cause of the fire.

You must remember that the FIRMsAPP is a method of systematically documenting your thought process and ensuring that data is not missed before you leave the scene.

FIRMs can also be used on cold case reviews, artefact examinations and to challenge opposing experts.

FIRMs do not negate the requirements to make full contemporaneous notes, document the scene and explain how you have identified the area of origin.

Remember: It should not take you more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete all of the FIRMs before you leave the scene, once you become familiar with the App.

For any further enquiries please email: info@firmsapp.io

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