Welcome to this edition of IAAI’s CFITrainer.Net® podcast. Today, we take a closer look at the international activities of the International Association of Arson Investigators. Joining us is George Codding, who took a trip this past fall with Past President Rodney Pevytoe to Saipan to provide some training. Welcome to the podcast, George.
GEORGE CODDING: Thank you for having me.
ROD AMMON: I’m glad you’re here. I would love it if you could tell us a little bit about your trip and then I’ve got some questions for you about the international activities of the IAAI. Tell us about the trip.
GEORGE CODDING: Well, last October, Past President Pevytoe and I had the privilege of presenting the IAAI’s fire investigation fundamentals course, which is a 40-hour course that has been recently developed. We presented it in Saipan, which is in the Northern Mariana Islands. The training was for the inspectors there at the Northern Mariana’s Fire Department. We really enjoyed our time there. We presented actually the 40-hour course plus a little bit more, and what we had done is simply gotten into discussions with the department about what they wanted to have in the way of their training, and then we were able to develop a course, along with the 40-hour fundamentals, that suited their needs. We really enjoyed meeting the folks there. I think our presentation was really well received there. It was just a great experience overall.
ROD AMMON: So, what’s unique about Saipan?
GEORGE CODDING: It’s a commonwealth, so it’s associated with the United States, but it’s also its own independent country. It’s in the South Pacific, so it has a lot of history from World War II because of its proximity to Japan. There were quite a lot of battles that occurred there and near there at the end of World War II, so it was interesting from a tourist perspective for us as well.
ROD AMMON: What was their reason for calling us in to assist them and for you and Rodney to go?
GEORGE CODDING: I guess I would be just assuming that they wanted to hear what the International had to teach in the way of the best practices, the methodology that’s being used, NFPA921 and 1033 systems, to make sure that they had a good foundation and a good baseline for fire investigations and to see what their investigation techniques are like and how they compare to those of the NFPA system.
ROD AMMON: So, tell me, what are some of the other IAAI international activities that are going on, George?
GEORGE CODDING: Well, as you know the International has 74 chapters throughout the world. We have members in North America, Central, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and members can join our organization from anywhere in the world. We have many chapters in many countries, but even if you’re not in a country that has a chapter, you can certainly join the International and benefit from it. We have a worldwide audience on CFITrainer.Net®, which is tens of thousands of registered users around the world, and really serves as a model for fire investigation training for many, many people, and then we offer our training programs outside the US to various agencies or departments or other organizations, public and private. So, that’s part of why we ended up going to Saipan last year. This is one of the many inquiries that we’ve had regarding training outside of the United States.
ROD AMMON: So, what types of requests do you get from other countries, and what’s the process for IAAI to respond?
GEORGE CODDING: Well, like I said, we get requests for training from outside the US on a fairly regular basis. They’re handled very much like any other request. Our training department will respond to the agency or the organization that’s making the request to try to determine their needs and try to tailor a program or a presentation that’s going to fit their needs. We can put on a program with open registration like the programs you see on our website where people can just sign up or we can bring the program straight to the agency or organization without opening it up to everyone, and that’s actually what we did in Saipan. We brought the training right into the fire department, so it wasn’t a publicly advertised training. Of course, if the training - if the request, rather, is in an area that has a chapter already, we’ll try to coordinate with that chapter as necessary to make sure that they’re involved in the setting up of whatever we’re doing. We’ve seen actually quite a lot of interest in the fundamentals course already. We’ve already presented it several times outside the United States. I do expect that we’ll be doing that again in the very near future.
ROD AMMON: You know, just to throw things off again, has there been interest in the FIT Program?
GEORGE CODDING: Oh certainly. There’s been a lot of interest expressed in the FIT designation as well as in the trainings. I think that a lot of places are really looking for a premier designation or certification that they can have their fire investigators attain and then be able to say they have a designation or certification by an internationally known organization. And so, it kind of provides a baseline.
ROD AMMON: I’m hearing a lot of people - a lot of interest sounds like is growing in the FIT or, as it’s known, the FIT Program for the designation, as you said, and we see folks doing some of the programs here on CFITrainer® for refreshing or updating what they’re doing for their CFIs. I know you’ve been involved with developing training and people should be grateful for the work that you do in the past for ATCs and in the future for the ITC and the training and education because I’m not sure that many people are aware of how much work you do. When you’re dealing with this and you step outside of the United States, there’s got to be some issues. Can you talk a little bit about that when it comes to, for instance, the legal differences or training and certification?
GEORGE CODDING: You know, the course content, as I think you alluded to, that can be an issue. Fire dynamics and fire behavior and that sort of thing are the same anywhere of course, but there are differences in training topics between the United States and other countries. The International’s courses are designed to conform to the dominant documents in the US including NFPA921 and 1033, and those documents generally discuss, for example, building and electrical systems that are prevalent in the United States. So, when we’re presenting courses outside of the United States, we do need to look at those areas and make sure that we are offering material that’s appropriate for the audiences that are involved, try to include materials that are relevant to the local area or at least distill the important concepts and make sure that they’re understood without having necessarily to dwell on details that actually don’t apply in the local jurisdiction.
As I said before, any time we get a request like this, we want to put a lot of time and thought into making sure that what we’re offering and what we’re presenting is going to be appropriate for the audience that we’re presenting to. So, the 40-hour fundamentals course is a fully developed course with presentations and all that, all developed and ready to go, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to roll it out without having regard for what are the needs of the audience that are going to be hearing the course. As I mentioned before, we want to be cognizant to what’s relevant in the way of certification or in the way of preparation in the host country. At the same time, we want to make sure that people understand that the IAAI’s CFI and the IAAI-FIT are a very important and relevant certification and designation and make sure that they’re aware of those and that their people are working toward those designations because they are fairly important in the field pretty much anywhere now.
ROD AMMON: What advantages do these international activities give all of the IAAI’s members?
GEORGE CODDING: My philosophy has been that you - we have a lot to learn from each other. This organization is the premier fire investigator organization worldwide, and as such, I think we need to strive to learn as much as possible about what the professionals are doing everywhere so we can continue refining our understanding of the science as well as the best practices that we recommended that we follow. Like I said, we have a lot to learn from each other and not just a lot to teach somebody else, and so I think that we all benefit, not only this organization and the folks who we might go and visit and present our methodology and our teachings to, but I think we benefit from those folks as well, and I think we benefit from professionals who do this in any part of the world. I think our membership benefits from that as well.
ROD AMMON: I saw that a lot when I was in London and seeing a lot of the folks from other countries presenting to us.
GEORGE CODDING: Absolutely.
ROD AMMON: It was so good just to hear what’s going on.
GEORGE CODDING: Right, and I certainly also believe that there’s plenty to be learned from other people, other professionals, and exactly as you said, having people presenting to us, showing us what their unique issues are and their unique circumstances, and some of the things they do about it are things that we can always learn from.
ROD AMMON: It’s great to see. It’s great to see this communication going on between the countries. I mean, you alluded to it earlier that we’ve got a lot of folks from a lot of different countries. I think at CFITrainer® now, we’re over 150 countries.
GEORGE CODDING: That’s great.
ROD AMMON: And, it’s so wonderful to see, and those lead into a lot of the social networks, and I’m seeing those types of communication go on, and I know you are, too, on a daily basis. Hey, what are you doing about this, and so not only logging in to CFITrainer® or going to fire arson, but also looking at the LinkedIn groups that are being developed out there.
GEORGE CODDING: Well, good, and our goals are generally and essentially the same, the protection of people and their property from the disaster that is fire, whether it be the arson-type fire or whether it be natural or accidental fire causes, to protect whoever the people are from fire and to learn more about fire causation so fires can be prevented. That’s why we share information. That’s why we talk to each other, and that’s a goal that all of us have.
ROD AMMON: Well said. If someone outside the United States has a need or request that the IAAI may be able to help with, how would you want them to contact the IAAI to explore possibilities?
GEORGE CODDING: Well, I guess I would suggest, because the internet is so pervasive, anybody who’s even outside the United States who might have an interest in the training being offered by the International, I would suggest that they contact us through the website. As you know, the website’s address is www.firearson.com. When you go there, there’s a tab on that front page called About IAAI, and that tab leads you to a contact page. There is a general email address. Send a message to that main email address, and it will be routed to proper department. So if it’s about training, somebody from the training department will contact you back and discuss what your needs might be and what we might have to offer, what can be arranged to be able to meet those needs. Obviously, if there’s a chapter in your area or in your country, you can contact them as well. They can let you know what’s going on in your area and what’s being offered, and they can certainly connect you with the International to be able to arrange those training opportunities or just to have a dialogue or a discussion as to what might be available.
ROD AMMON: Excellent. Thanks very much for being with us, George.
GEORGE CODDING: My pleasure, thank you.
ROD AMMON: Now, here’s the latest in IAAI news. The IAAI and CFITrainer.Net®, their team will be attending and exhibiting at the 2013 Arson & Fire Investigation Seminar sponsored by The Insurance Committee on Arson Control, or some of you know it as ICAC. It’s going to be in Destin, FL from February 24 through the 27. The ICAC is a long-time supporter of the CFITrainer.Net® project and the Seminar focuses on fire and arson investigation techniques, procedures and resources. It’s designed for claims, SIU personnel, defense attorneys, independent adjusters, and fire investigators. Please stop by at the IAAI booth for more information on IAAI and to let us know about your CFITrainer.Net® experience. We’re hoping you’ll register for the ICAC event. We’ll see you there.
IAAI’s 2013 International Training Conference is in Orlando this May. It’s just around the corner, folks. You better make your plans. IAAI has issued a call for poster exhibits that advance scientific understanding and present or advance new ideas in fire investigation and related research. The poster session will be Monday, May 6 and it’s designed to foster a collegial environment where authors and attendees can discuss research interests and make or renew relationships for collaboration. It’s a great opportunity for researchers and authors to exhibit and discuss their recent work or work in progress. They can get some feedback and make new contacts as well. The deadline to submit a poster abstract for consideration is March 4. Accepted posters will receive a conference seminar fee discount. For more information, read the full announcement at the link on this podcast’s page or go to firearson.com.
That concludes this podcast. Stay safe and we’ll see you next time on CFITrainer.Net®. For the IAAI and CFITrainer®, I’m Rod Ammon.
ICAC 2013 Seminar
2013 ITC 2nd Annual Poster Presentation: Submission Information
Register for ITC