The IAAI and CFITrainer.Net present these podcasts with a focus on issues relating to fire investigation. With expertise from around the world, the International Association of Arson Investigators produces these podcasts to bring more information and electronic media to fire investigators looking for training, education and general information about fire investigation. Topics include recent technologies, issues in the news, training opportunities, changes in laws and standards and any other topic that might be of interest to a fire investigator or industry professional affected by fire. Information is presented using a combination of original stories and interviews with scientists, leaders in fire investigation from the fire service and the law enforcement community.
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Fire Investigation for Fire Officers Certificate
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Welcome to the CFITrainer.Net Podcast. We have a lot of news on the CFITrainer.Net and IAAI training fronts today. Exciting new ways to stay current in your knowledge and skills despite COVID and budget challenges are here. First, Bobby Schaal, a project manager of CFITrainer.Net is with us to talk about the new fire investigation for fire officer's certificate. It's now available on the network. Bobby is a retired ATF special agent certified fire investigator and a former assistant special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Division. He's now a consultant and forensic fire investigator with Gulf Coast Fire Investigation Research and Education.
Bobby, it's always good to have you here.
Hey, good talking to you Rod.
Glad you could be with us today. Sort of wanted to find out a little bit about the background of this, I started joking around calling it a FIFO Certificate, but maybe it's good people hear something like that. But the F-I-F-O certificate, can you tell us about a fire officer's investigation responsibilities and what this certificate's about?
Yeah, the fire officers under NFPA 1021 which is the standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications, do have varying degrees of investigative responsibility. We would call it the first line of defense, they get the first eyes on the fire. So we want them to have some preliminary concept of the investigation process and understand they're part of the investigative team. Under fire investigator one, it's a general requirement and it's outlined in Section 4. In Fire Officer two, it gets a little more specific, talking about identifying the area of origin and that is outlined in Section 5 of the standard.
Okay, so what is this certificate? Tell me about that.
The FIFO Certificate, and FIFO is just an acronym we use to denote Fire Investigation for Fire Officers. We decided that there was a constant request for a track information in various disciplines. So how do we do this? How do I become a fire investigator? How do I do this? So in looking at it, we said fire officers need some guidance in expanding their origin and cause capabilities. So what can we do? We looked at our existing modules and we picked out some of those. And then in a previous grant, we also focused on developing modules specifically for fire officers.
We packaged them together to kind of create a roadmap where somebody interested in developing their fire investigation skills can go in there and it outlines the modules they have to take. And then we also have two sub-disciplines, the youth-set fire add-on and the motor vehicle fire add-on, that supplement and add to the core fire investigation for fire officers, multi-program certificate.
All right. And yeah, so an important thing to do, and I think a nice thing to do as far as people that document their career as they're moving in. So it would be valuable to not only people who are necessarily fire officers, but perhaps people who are interested in becoming fire officers?
Yeah, I think so. I think it's a good way to demonstrate that you do in fact meet this particular job performance requirement outlined in the standard at both the fire officer one and the fire officer two levels. So as a developmental track if your goal is to become a fire officer, I think building your curriculum vitae and showing that you have experience in all of the job performance requirements of that position, I think aids you as you transition into that position.
Yeah. Okay, I thought that might make sense. And I'm also wondering maybe to put this in context, there are a lot of things that fire officers have to do. A lot of standards and a lot of guidelines that they have to pay attention to all the time. Why do you think it's important that fire officers earn this certificate?
Again I think it's important because they oftentimes are our first eyes on the scene and they may be the only eyes on the scene. So having some background on fire investigation, the origin and cause determination will allow them to better assess situation and better utilize resources. If they can easily identify, let's say food on the stove, they don't need to call somebody from their fire investigation unit to come out. They can save that for a more complex scenario that might be a better use of those resources. But we also want them to understand that they are part of the team and what they look at, even if they do have a formal fire investigation unit, it gets called out, builds on that. And you don't want contradictory information. You want complementary information and you want to build on information and have consistent information throughout the investigation.
So actions they take on the scene, like you mentioned, they have a broader scope than the fire investigator that's just there to do origin cause. They have suppression, overhaul, command and control type of requirements, but they can execute those with the fire investigation in mind when exigent circumstances diminish and it's safe to do so. So they can maybe limit overhaul, they can secure the scene, they can restrict access to certain areas, that all help build better opportunity for success when we do the origin and cause investigation.
Yeah, that's well said. I don't know that I could have put it all together like that. I think that really brings it home. And then the one great motivating factor is what if you don't do it right? What are the ramifications if you're not conducting investigations in accordance with standards?
Well, if you don't do an investigation according to the standards, if you move to criminal litigation or civil litigation, you certainly put your case at peril. You won't be able to successfully adjudicate it in either venue, but also if you don't formalize the process and you don't take the process serious, you can make mistakes that hamper anybody's ability to come in and do a competent investigation. Let's say a firefighter is there and then they think it's a Christmas tree fire. So they take the Christmas tree and the lights so they can use it in a demonstration back at the firehouse. Well, now they've compromised that scene where civil practitioners that may come in afterwards don't have the evidence that they need to look at.
So even if you're not going to take the case forward in the civil arena, they need to understand that other people will have an interest in that scene and still preserve that scene so others may look at it in the same light that they got to see it in, and not compromise evidence and not compromise the scene.
I appreciate you coming on today.
Well, I appreciate the opportunity. And if I could give another plug to fire officers is we did recently develop some matrix documents that outline what modules we have available that support job performance requirements in a particular standard. NFPA 1021 is one of those standards that we created this matrix for. So more overarching guiding information is also available in that resource document that's available on CFITrainer.Net as well.
Since you opened up that can of worms, there's so many new things that are going on on CFITrainer.Net. I guess maybe if we focus on just one of those that you just went through and we're checking, and that was the transcript and what you're going to be able to do with a transcript. You want to talk briefly about that?
Sure. Right now, any course you take on CFITrainer.Net and any IAAI training offering, and then a number of IAAI affiliate chapter training option, you can test through the CFITrainer.Net platform, and that creates a transcript or training log of all the courses you've taken. Right now we kind of do it alphabetically, but we are enhancing that where you'll be able to sort by date and other features.
So it's a good one stop shop to kind of keep all of your training records and you can see where you're current and make sure that you maintain documentation that may be needed for certification as you move down the road.
You always have a crystal clear answer. I appreciate that about you, Bobby.
Yeah, I appreciate it Rod.
All right man. Thanks very much and I hope you have a good weekend and holiday.
All right. You too, Rod. Thank you.
We've got a link to the FIFO or F-I-F-O certificate on this webpage. It's the F-I-F-O certificate.com and that'll take you directly to some information that's relevant on CFI Trainer. Again, that's at the F-I-F-O certificate.com webpage, and it's supporting this podcast. So please check that out. If you've taken any of the modules required for that certificate, you will automatically receive credit for that and don't have to take them again. So you may already well be on your way to earning the certificate itself. As we move into the winter and think about skiing, it brings to mind a news release from the ATF that came across our social media feed recently detailing a reward of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who have been setting fires in Stowe Vermont, there've been over a dozen fires stretching back to 2016.
Four of those fires have occurred since June 2020. Most recently at the Stowe Cablevision office. Luckily, no one's been injured or killed so far, but more than $4 million in property damage has been caused by these fires. And they're a great concern in the Stowe community. To learn more about this, keep an eye on the ATF site. There are links to many of those pages on this podcast page.
Now let's talk about in-person classes. The IAAI has always had a robust in-person class program. Many courses consistently sell out. When COVID hit the IAAI pivoted to online delivery of instructor-led classes through the Zoom platform. To date, the IAAI has successfully delivered seven sessions of these classes. Attendance has been strong and recorded versions of some of these classes are available online on the firearson.com training classes page. This has proven to be a viable model for the IAAI to continue to make this critical training available to a wide audience, and we expect that to outlast the pandemic as the IAAI integrates this new delivery method into its slate of training opportunities. It's a great way for professionals with limited time, constrained budgets and travel issues to receive instructor-led classes. Moving forward, the IAAI's online instructor-led classes will be delivered over the CFITrainer.Net platform as webinars in some cases, this has a number of advantages for you.
You'll be able to see those webinars listed on CFITrainer.Net, next to our training modules, you can register for the webinar through CFITrainer.Net. The webinar will be listed on your transcript once you've completed it, you'll get a list of resources to continue your learning and the webinars topic. You'll have one click access to the certificate of completion test, and no pin is required. You'll also be able to immediately download your certificate once you pass the post webinar test. As long as you registered for the webinar, you'll also be able to go back any time and watch the recording.
The only thing you have to do is be sure you are registered with CFITrainer.Net, and then keep your eye out for these webinars as they are listed and register for the ones that interest you. Just like the IAAI in-person classes, these webinars typically have a registration fee, this doesn't affect the regular CFITrainer.Net online modules. Those remain free of charge. We'll be rolling out the webinars feature in January to February of 2021. So look for an email blast announcing the first instructor-led webinars being delivered this way.
Don't worry, as soon as COVID allows, the IAAI will restart its in-person classes, but we will also continue to deliver webinars on CFITrainer.Net, as well as produce and release the training modules we always have. It's a beautiful thing when we can give you more ways to get training. One last bit of news, last month, the IAAI International and the Connecticut Chapter of the IAAI worked together to take the chapter's 35th annual arson investigators seminar virtual. Over 320 professionals attended the day-long event held entirely over Zoom with training sessions delivered remotely by respected instructors joining from all over the United States and a socially distant annual meeting broadcast live from a hotel ballroom. IAAI president Rick Jones and members of the IAAI board of directors participated as instructors and panelists. The virtual seminar delivered at no cost to attendees provided eight tested hours for continuing education credits to maintain professional certifications.
Feedback from participants was universally positive about the content and this new mode of attendance with many rave reviews. Congratulations to Paul Makuc, president of the Connecticut Chapter and their board for a job very well done. If you've got an innovative way, your IAAI chapter is meeting the needs of its membership, use the feedback form on this podcast page to let us know about it. We may feature it on an upcoming podcast.
One last item today is a bit of a challenge. The IAAI is application for the most recent cycle of the assistance to firefighters grant program administered by FEMA and the US department of Homeland Security was not selected for funding. The IAAI anticipates applying again in the next cycle which will be in 2021. The IAAI and the team at CFITrainer.Net are committed to continuing to build CFITrainer.Net, and indeed there are a number of modules that will be released over the next six months. If you enjoy this podcast and other training brought to you on CFITrainer.Net, please consider making a donation to support the network and its programming so we can continue to bring you podcasts like this on new and emerging topics in fire investigation and develop new things for the network itself. A donation link is available on this podcast Page at CFITrainer.Net.
This podcast and CFITrainer.Net are made possible by funding from a fire prevention and safety grant from the assistance to Firefighters Grant Program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security. Support is also coming from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and voluntary online donations from CFITrainer.Net users and podcast listeners. We appreciate your support and remember to share these podcasts with one of your peers, friends, and when you get a chance, please click on the donate link up at the CFITrainer.Net page so that you can make a donation no matter how small it is toward helping us produce new content that's good for the entire fire investigation community. Thanks for joining us on the podcast today. Stay safe and we'll see you next time. For the international association of arson investigators and CFITrainer.Net. I'm Rod Ammon.
This program provides a primer on accreditation, certification, and certificates for fire investigation training.
A fire occurred on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, in The Station nightclub at 211 Cowesett Avenue, West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Arc Mapping, or Arc Fault Circuit Analysis, uses the electrical system to help reconstruct a scene, providing investigators with a means of determining the area of a fire’s origin.
This module introduces basic electrical concepts, including: terminology, atomic theory and electricity, Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law, AC and DC power.
A fire occurred on the evening of June 18, 2007, in the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, SC that resulted in the deaths of nine fire fighters.
This module looks at the many ways fire investigators enter and grow in the profession through academia, the fire service, law enforcement, insurance, and engineering.
This module will present a description of the IAAI organization.
This module takes a closer look at four of the most commonly-reported accidental fire causes according to "NFPA Fact Sheet.
This program brings three highly experienced fire investigators and an attorney with experience as a prosecutor and civil litigator together for a round table discussion.
One of the legal proceedings that may require the fire investigator to testify is a deposition. Depositions are often related to civil proceedings, but more and more jurisdictions are using them in criminal cases.
Deposing attorneys employ a variety of tactics to learn about the expert witness giving testimony, to try to unsettle that witness to see how he/she handles such pressure, and to probe for weaknesses to exploit.
The program discusses the basics of digital photography for fire investigators as well as software and editing procedures for digital images intended as evidence.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in civil proceedings such as fire loss claims and product defect lawsuits.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in criminal proceedings.
This module covers the foundation of DNA evidence: defining, recognizing, collecting, and testing.
This program provides a practical overview of how to perform the baseline documentation tasks that occur at every scene.
This module will discuss the techniques and strategies for conducting a proper science-based fire scene investigation and effectively presenting an investigator’s findings in court as an expert witness.
This program explains the basic principles of how electric and hybrid vehicles are designed and work, including major systems and typical components.
This program presents critical safety information for how to interact with electric and hybrid vehicles.
This module presents critical electrical safety practices that every fire investigator should implement at every scene, every time.
In this program, we will look at emerging technologies that fire investigators are integrating into their daily investigative work with great success.
This self-paced program examines the fire investigator's ethical duties beyond the fire scene.
As social media has emerged as a powerful force in interpersonal communications, fire investigators are being confronted with new questions...
Should you work for a private lab as a consultant if you are on an Arson Task Force? How about accepting discounts from the local hardware store as a “thanks” for a job well done on a fire they had last year?
This module takes investigators into the forensic laboratory and shows them what happens to the different types of fire scene evidence that are typically submitted for testing.
This module teaches the foundational knowledge of explosion dynamics, which is a necessary precursor to investigating an explosion scene.
This module addresses the foundations of fire chemistry and places it within the context of fire scene investigations.
The program is designed to introduce a new Palm/Pocket PC application called CFI Calculator to users and provide examples of how it can be used by fire investigators in the field.
This module examines these concepts to help all professionals tasked with determining fire origin and cause better understand fire flow dynamics so they can apply that knowledge to both to fire investigation and to fire attack.
This module provides a road map for fire officers to integrate and navigate their fire investigation duty with all their other responsibilities and describes where to obtain specific training in fire investigation.
The evaluation of hazards and the assessment of the relative risks associated with the investigation of fires and explosions are critical factors in the management of any investigation.
This module will describe the most commonly encountered fire protection systems.
This module presents best practices in preparing for and conducting the informational interview with witnesses in the fire investigation case.
This module provides instruction on the fundamentals of residential building construction with an eye toward how building construction affects fire development.
This module provides introductory information on the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard – 29 CFR 1910.120.
This module teaches first responders, including fire, police and EMS, how to make critical observations.
The program examines the importance of assessing the impact of ventilation on a fire.
This program discusses how to access insurance information, understand insurance documents, ask key questions of witnesses, and apply the information learned.
This module offers a basic introduction about how some selected major appliances operate.
This program introduces the fire investigator to the issues related to the collection, handling and use of evidence related to a fire investigation.
This program takes you inside the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) archives of some of the most interesting and instructive test burns and fire model simulations they have ever conducted.
The program provides foundational background on the scope of the youth-set fire problem, the importance of rigorous fire investigation in addressing this problem, and the role of key agencies in the response to a youth-set fire.
This module provides a thorough understanding of the ways an investigation changes when a fire-related death occurs.
This self-paced program will help you understand what to expect at a fire where an LODD has occurred, what your role is, how to interact with others, and how to handle special circumstances at the scene.
This program will introduce the fire investigator to the basic methodologies use to investigate vehicle fires.
This module presents the role natural gas can play in fire ignition, fuel load, and spread; the elements of investigating a fire in a residence where natural gas is present; and the potential role the gas utility or the municipality can play an investigation.
This self-paced program covers fundamental legal aspects of investigating youth-set fires, including the juvenile justice system, legalities of interviews and interrogations, arson statutes, search and seizure, and confidentiality.
This program explains what lithium-ion batteries are, how they are constructed, where they are used, safety concerns, and how they can cause fires and explosions.
This program discusses the latest developments in expert testimony under the Daubert standard, including the MagneTek case recently decided in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
This module focuses on how to manage investigations that have “complicating” factors.
This module uses the Motive, Means, and Opportunity case study to demonstrate how responsibility is determined in an arson case.
This program covers the general anatomy of a motor vehicle and a description of typical components of the engine, electrical, ignition, and fuel systems.
This self-paced program is the second part of a two-part basic introduction to motor vehicle systems. This program describes the function and major components of the transmission, exhaust, brake, and accessory systems.
This module educates the investigator about NFPA 1033’s importance, its requirements, and how those requirements impact the fire investigator’s professional development.
This module reviews the major changes included in the documents including the use of color photos in NFPA 921 and additional material that supports the expanded required knowledge list in NFPA 1033 Section 1.3.7.
The program illustrates for the fire investigator, how non-traditional fire scene evidence can be helpful during an investigation.
This module introduces the postflashover topic, describes ventilation-controlled fire flow, illustrates how the damage left by a postflashover can be significantly different than if that fire was extinguished preflashover.
This module demonstrates the investigative potential of information stored on electronic devices.
This module explains the relationship between NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921
This module lays the groundwork for understanding marine fires by covering four basic concepts that the investigator must understand before investigating a marine fire.
In this module, you will learn more about how cancer develops, what occupational exposure risks to carcinogens exist at fire scenes, and how to better protect yourself against those exposures.
The use of the process of elimination in the determination of a fire cause is a topic that has generated significant discussion and controversy in the fire investigation profession.
This module teaches the basics of the electrical power generation, distribution, and transmission system.
This module presents the basics of natural gas and its uses and system components in a residence.
The basics of the scientific method are deceptively simple: observe, hypothesize, test, and conclude.
This module explains the principles of search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as contained in the amendment and according to subsequent case law, and applies them to typical fire scene scenarios.
This module addresses the foundations of thermometry, including the definition of temperature, the scales used to measure temperature and much more.
This program presents the results of flame experiments conducted with a candle.
This self-paced program explains to non-investigators the role of the fire investigator, what the fire investigator does, how the fire investigator is trained, what qualifications the fire investigator must meet.
This module will untangle the meanings of "undetermined," straighten out how to use the term correctly, talk about how not to use it, and describe how to properly report fires where "undetermined" is the cause or classification.
This module will advise fire investigators on how to approach the fact-finding procedures necessary and validate a hypothesis.
This module provides an overview on how structures can become vacant and eventually abandoned.
This self-paced program provides a basic framework for structuring the management of fire cases and fire investigators.
This module illustrates how wildland fires spread, explains how to interpret burn patterns unique to these types of fires.
This module presents the key elements of the initial origin and cause report and methods of clearly presenting findings in a professional manner.