Virtual reality aiding fire scene investigation: A thankless endeavor or catalyst for change?

Vincenzo Rinaldi (Lead / Corresponding author), Eva Ljungkvist, Benny Thomsen, Niamh Nic Daeid

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The training of a fire investigator should lay the foundations for a systematic, evidence-based, and unbiased analysis of a fire scene. The ability of the investigators to determine the origin, cause and development of a fire is gained through education, experience based on on-the-job training and focused continuous professional development (CPD). Practitioners have met these requirements for several decades through formal examinations and specialized training. Additionally, several countries provide training in full-scale (simulated) fire scenes for public and private sector fire investigators. These scenes may also be used for ongoing competency and proficiency testing. However, simulated fire scene setups are costly, limited to a single excavation event, and often short-lived due to deterioration upon use and ease of contamination. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need, and provided the opportunity, for developing both virtual/hybrid training and competence testing, prompting the exploration of novel technologies in this area. A cross-border multi-agency partnership between academics, forensic practitioners, and forensic scientists explored the feasibility of leveraging digitalization techniques to support immersive virtual reality (VR). We outline the critical aspects and requirements beyond the challenges connected to technical feasibility, which the forensic science and judicial community demand so that technological development would be considered admissible within the justice system.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1518
Number of pages13
JournalWIREs Forensic Science
Early online date1 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2024


  • forensic science
  • scene investigation
  • training
  • virtual reality
  • visualization


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