My interest in fire investigation was prompted by lectures about fires aboard ships given by Dr Frank Rushbrook our Founder when I was an MSc student at the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Fire Safety Engineering. As top student I was invited to continue my studies and I was sponsored by Conoco the operators of the Murchison platform in the North Sea.

Despite coming from a family of Chartered Surveyors (now in its fourth generation) I went to work for one of the UK’s foremost marine consultants and reviewed the fires aboard HM Ships during the Falkland’s Campaign. In 1991 after a spell in the family surveying business Dr Rushbrook invited me to join him and I jumped at the chance of being mentored by one of the world’s leading marine fire investigators.

We quickly found despite the difference in age that there was a synergy between the experienced firefighter and fire scientist which was stronger than the sum of the parts.

That synergy is a model which IFIC Forensics continues to employ today, looking for the best of new talent in fire safety engineering and combining it with those who have long service in the largest Fire Brigades.

In the last 10 years the Fire Service has encouraged officers to specialize in fire investigation and Forensics recruits from those holding the most senior ranks and expertise.

In the last 20 years clients have appointed IFIC Forensics in the knowledge that as experts our first duty is to the Court in which we might eventually appear. That sense of accountability informs the investigation process and no ends are left “loose”.

As a Chartered Fire Engineer and Chartered Surveyor I am uniquely placed to take a holistic view of not only the origin and cause of fires but the wider fire safety environment in which those fires have occurred. This holistic view has served my clients well as most fires are not simply the result of an ignition source meeting fuel but the unhappy coincidence of many factors. There is an old adage that the three most common causes of fire are men, women and children to which might be added “and most of them smoke!” whether deliberately or inadvertently I have found over the years the adage to prove true.

Professor J F Lygate, Chairman & Principal Fire Investigator