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.
ROD: Welcome to the IAAI CFITrainer.Net podcast for August 2012. This is a special edition of the CFITrainer.Net podcast. We’ll be looking to a preview of ITC 2013. That’s right. There’s a new name for the annual training conference from the IAAI. It is now called the International Training Conference because of so many people and so much involvement from around the globe.
So, planning for the ITC 2013 in Orlando, Florida from May 5th through the 10th 2013 has already been underway for some time. 120 hours of in-person training will be delivered from top experts. You’ll be able to have relation-building opportunities, personal interaction with colleagues and there will also be an exhibit floor.
With us today is Bob Toth. He is the committee chair for the 2013 ITC. How are you Bob?
BOB TOTH: I’m very good Rod, and you?
ROD: I’m doing well. Thanks for being with us today. We really appreciate you taking the time to give us a little bit of a preview. So, why don’t you do that? What’s going on? I know things haven’t been nailed down and they’ll be released in the upcoming few months, but can you give us a little preview of the types of courses that may be part of ITC 2013?
BOB TOTH: Absolutely. The committee’s been working hard to make sure that we address all the needs of investigators and any other subject matter experts that may be involved in any type of fire investigation. We’ve got a couple of topics that we’re working on that seem to be some hot button issues. Of course, by the time the ITC comes around next year, the new edition of NFPA 1033 will be out. Of course, we want to spend some time bringing everyone up to speed on the new requirements of that particular standard. We are also working with individuals to develop classes on protocol development and scene safety, and how do you develop protocols for everyone that may be involved in some of these losses? Everyone from the public agency, fire department, to police departments, to the insurance industry and private investigators and how do you all work together and conduct your concurrent and parallel investigations? And how do you develop protocols to address all of those subtle differences that you see from fire to fire? We’re going to be talking about a systematic analysis of witness statements and how you can use that analysis and all those witness statements to help you reconstruct the fire scene.
One big topic that seems to be growing over the past few years is the ventilation patterns and building constructions and how those affect the dynamics, if you will, in a compartment fire. And there’s a host of other things. We’re also looking at - we have an instructor, very well-known instructor around the country coming to discuss narrative-based interview techniques. That applies to everyone involved in any type of fire investigations. And for those that have gone to past training conferences held by the IAAI, we have a full week with Jim Allen and Joe Konefal. That entire week has some great topics that are going to be presented by Jim and Joe. That particular week the title of their presentation is going to be "921 and 1033: Meeting the Challenges for Today’s Investigators." And they will take those two documents and through the course of the week discuss very important hot button issues, and I think it’s important for people to know that that entire track is not necessarily a track that you must commit to every day of that particular week. It’s - I attended two or three days of it last year just because of the particular topics they were talking about, so I would encourage investigators and adjusters and law enforcement people to say look at this schedule. If they see something on that particular day and that particular class that Jim and Joe are discussing, perhaps spoliation issues or evidence collection, they welcome you with open arms to come in on that particular day to learn the latest on those techniques relative to what 921 and 1033 are requiring.
ROD: That’s a really good point because having that versatility. I know that week can be crazy because you’re trying to get to so many places, so being able to pop in and focus on something that you want to do is a really good point.
BOB TOTH: You’re absolutely right. We’ve got - we’re going to be pushing nearly 120 hours of possible training for our attendees and there’s no reason you couldn’t find 40 hours of training through that week to meet your specific needs.
ROD: Excellent. So now I’m going to ask you something that is a total common sense - sounds like common sense, but why should fire investigators attend ITC 2013?
BOB TOTH: It’s a great deal - and not just fire investigators. I really want to emphasize the fact that this training conference is not just for fire investigators, but it’s for the other subject matter experts that work with fire investigators and the other disciplines and the other industries out there that hire fire investigators. There will be topics that address all of those needs. The legal community, attorneys that may hire investigators or other subject matter experts to help them decipher their findings in a fire investigation and identify those - the origin, the cause and the circumstances that led to that fire and ultimately identify what may be responsible for that fire.
Obviously, law enforcement, when you can start to consider the criminal aspects of some fires, and that particular component of fire investigations, there will be classes there as well for that industry. Unlike other training conferences out there that may have a week of courses, some of them may not apply directly to your particular focus in a fire investigation, here we have so many hours available to you and you have so many opportunities to network with everyone and to learn during the week. You’re not going to find a more robust opportunity to find all of that training.
ROD: You know, Bob, already you’ve mentioned some of the other professionals besides fire investigators that benefit from ITC 2013, can you talk a little bit about what we’re doing for the insurance industry?
BOB TOTH: People involved in the private investigation or the insurance industry, everyone from the adjuster to the subrogation attorney. We will have a week long track of training for them as well to discuss things such as the latest case laws and how it may affect their approaches to fire investigations and how it may affect who they have to hire to assist them in the investigation of a fire. We’ll also discuss other topics that are specific to the needs of our investigators and the insurance industry in particular.
ROD: Why is it worth the money for me to be there, whether I’m public or private? I mean, public we obviously have budget issues, and in private, frankly, there’s a lot of folks that are dealing with tighter budgets all the time. Pitch why it’s worth the dollars.
BOB TOTH: Well, you’re absolutely right. I mean, every industry at this point in time is under these budget crunches and they really have to spend their dollar wisely. The IAAI, for years now, has focused on bringing the best and the brightest presenters in one location, and when we’ve done that we have basically inundated everyone that’s involved in fire investigations with, in this case, over 100 hours of training opportunity. We’ve brought them all into one location. We’ve brought them into convenient locations that’s easy to get to. And it becomes highly cost effective. When we bring all of these people to one location, and you can come to one location and meet with them and choose, you can get an entire week of training that is specific to your needs, rather than, as I said earlier, where you may find certain days or certain topics that aren’t germane, you should have no problem at all filling your entire week of training, which is good from a company’s management perspective. They want to know that if they’re sending you out to one of these international training conferences that you’re going to spending the lion’s share of your time receiving training and education that are specific to your job requirements and you will be able to bring that back and put that to work instantly once you return to the office.
ROD: Really, really good points. It seems like not only is it a great training conference, and we talk about networking opportunities and things, but I want people in public and private sector to be able to say - and I think they can now - when I go to this thing, I’m not just doing training, but when I turn around there are folks behind me, beside me, in the next room that I may need throughout the year that are not only going to save us money but they’re going to be a resource that helps me do my case better and I think that’s something great that you’ve helped put together.
One of the things I wanted to wrap up with was related to courtroom, and a lot of time I think if you’re not ready, if you don’t have the training background, you’re going to get shredded and you’re going to have a real problem. You may, whether you’re public sector, just fall down on the case, or if you’re private sector you may not be protecting your client or yourself or your investigation well. Can you speak to that, and specifically talk about a situation, maybe one where I think a lot of guys think, you know, I just don’t end up testifying and I think maybe they get surprised.
BOB TOTH: You’re absolutely right. Courts really don’t care about any reasons that you don’t have - or you couldn’t get to training or whatever the case may be. They don’t want to hear excuses, they want to make sure that when you’re doing a fire investigation and you’re coming before that judge and jury, you better be an expert. And there are documents out there that identify what that expert should know, and currently that document, that standard is NFPA 1033, and if you don’t meet those requirements and you don’t qualify to testify, you, your testimony and your investigation are going to be thrown out the window and barred from being presented to the judge or the jury, and suddenly that creates obviously a - an incredible hardship for any opportunity for continuing that particular portion of a fire investigation, the testimony part, if all of that stuff is thrown out.
That’s very important to appreciate and to understand. You don’t want to give the other side an opportunity to question your credentials. 1033 is that document that is being used to question your credentials and it has a long list of post-secondary education requirements that are necessary to qualify and to meet the standard, and that’s very important, the standard of NFPA 1033. You can demonstrate that you’re remaining current and meet those requirements of 1033 by attending courses that we make available at the ITC every year.
ROD: And I just want to reiterate, because I hear it from so many of you guys, to our listeners, guys and gals, that they weren’t really expecting some of the things that happen to them in the courtroom and it can be a career changing event, especially because it doesn’t happen every day to some folks who are in the public sector, and well, I think it’s a great opportunity. I’ve become a believer over working with you guys for the years. Thanks very much for your time Bob.
BOB TOTH: It’s always a pleasure Rod. It’s good to talk with you.
ROD: Now is the time to register for ITC 2013 at the special reduced early bird rate. For details visit IAAIITC.com. That’s a change from last year. Again, because it’s the International Training Conference now. Go to www.IAAIITC.com. That concludes this IAAI CFITrainer.Net podcast. Don’t forget to check out the links on this podcast page for more information on all of our stories. We’ll see you again next month. For CFITrainer and the IAAI, 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.
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 module presents critical electrical safety practices that every fire investigator should implement at every scene, every time.
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 teaches first responders, including fire, police and EMS, how to make critical observations.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
This module provides introductory information on the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard – 29 CFR 1910.120.
The program examines the importance of assessing the impact of ventilation on a fire.
This module demonstrates the investigative potential of information stored on electronic devices.
This module explains the relationship between NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921
The basics of the scientific method are deceptively simple: observe, hypothesize, test, and conclude.
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.