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.
<p>Welcome to IAAI’s December 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast. It’s the holiday season and families are gathering to celebrate with food and fun. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when the incidence of cooking fires peak, and we’ll take a look at that. Then, we have highlights of the actions taken at the International Code Council’s Annual Meeting on code requirements, including requiring residential sprinkler systems. Finally, we have an easy way to keep up with recalls from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.</p>
<p>Let’s begin with cooking fires. The incidence of cooking fires is highest during the holiday season, when more families are at home cooking meals. In fact, Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires. According to the NFPA’s 2005 statistics, approximately 150,000 home structure fires involving cooking equipment occur every year, causing nearly 500 civilian deaths, 4500 injuries, and over $870 million in property damage. These cooking fires account for 40% of all home structure fires. With us today to talk about the investigation of cooking fires is Mike Schlatman. Mike is a past President of the IAAI and he is now the President of Fire Consulting and Case Review International. Thanks for joining us, Mike.</p>
<p>MIKE: Thank you.</p>
<p>Q: What are some of the common ways or scenarios in which home cooking fires are ignited?</p>
<p>MIKE: By far the method of ignition is the ignition of grease and oil. People have a tendency to use grease or oil, and whether it’s new or used - and that makes a difference on the ignition temperature and hot surface ignition temperature - they will ignite the, they’ll turn on the burner and they will walk away from it. They’ll be distracted by children, television, telephone calls and in some cases even go to sleep leaving the grease or oil on the range. That, of course, heats to its ignition temperature and the fire ensues. There are other things such as leaving paper towels and other things on top of the range. You’d be surprised at how many people actually come in everyday and put their groceries or cardboard boxes or other combustibles on top of ranges and they leave them there and they eventually become ignited. </p>
<p>Q: Are there common indicators one sees in a fire caused by cooking? If so, what are they?</p>
<p>MIKE: Primarily you’ll see the conductive flame plume pattern, an aero pattern that’s created emanating from the surface of the range upward. The combustibles above it, such as the kitchen cabinetry, will be burned on maybe possibly more on one side than the other. Also oxidation patterns on the range hood should be noted. It may give you the location of the burner on which the fire actually occurred one, on one side or the other. Of course, the consumption of the combustibles on top of the counter on either side of the range will help determine your flame spread scenario, but by far the most frequently found pattern is the bottom of the skillet or pan will display the element, the pattern of an element if it’s an electrical burner and that will show you that the fire had occurred inside the pan and was in, it’s in higher temperature than a normal cooking, and so therefore, the element actually is shown on the bottom of the pan and the pan may be partially melted, but we must always look for the actual skillet or pan involved in the cooking to determine whether or not that pattern exists. </p>
<p>Q: What investigative actions are important when cooking is being considered as a fire cause?</p>
<p>MIKE: Well in every case, we must evaluate the appliance. Were there prior problems reported with the appliance? Was it installed correctly? What was the position of the burner knobs is of primary importance? Even if the plastic knob is melted off, the metal shaft may show you the position of the burner. An exemplar range should be examined when possible. Also, the knobs can be turned on, or buttons, depending on how old the range is, can be turned on accidentally. Were they turned on by someone placing something on the range? Did somebody lean against them? Do they have to be pushed in inward before they can be turned on? </p>
<p>We’ve had many cases where people have accidentally turned on the range knobs in that fashion, or they will accuse dogs and cats of turning on them, turning on the knobs, or by falling burning debris. I have one case where they said that falling burning debris turned on all four burners, which was, of course, inaccurate. And the last thing you must always, if you can, if you have the resources, use engineers to examine the appliances. Electrical engineers may be able to determine whether or not the burner was on at the time of the fire even if the knobs have been destroyed. Of course, you must interview the occupants of the house. What was being prepared? What oil or grease was being used? Was it new or old? Where was the cook at the time of the fire? What were their actions right then? What did they observe at the insipient stage of the fire? Where were the combustibles burning? That might be very important to you. The material that first ignited, that was first ignited must be, let me try that again. </p>
<p>The material that was first ignited must be established. The type of oil or grease will affect, and whether or not it was new or used, will affect its flashpoint and its hot surface ignition temperature. So you must know that. What was their normal cooking practice? Did they usually leave the kitchen while preparing meals? Look at what did they do when they found the fire. People have, and they’ve been terribly injured, by pouring water onto grease fires. Did they pick up the pan? Did they try to take it outside? Did they spill the contents on the floor? All of these things will be very important. So you must verify what they say through the physical evidence. </p>
<p>Thanks, Mike. And, listeners, by the way, you might want to take a listen to last year’s December podcast about Christmas tree fires. Now, let’s take a look at what’s making news in fire investigation this month.</p>
<p>The International Code Council’s Annual Conference took place from October 24th to November 11th. During the Conference, the ICC held Code Development Hearings on the 2009/2010 proposed changes to the International Codes. Many proposals were considered and voted on at this meeting. Here, we look at three topics at these meetings that have been of keen interest to fire investigators. Last year, a residential fire sprinkler requirement for all new homes was added to the International Residential Code. At the October 28th hearing, the ICC’s Residential Building Code Committee rejected a request by the National Association of Homebuilders or NAHB to repeal the residential sprinkler requirement and voted to uphold the requirement. Subsequently, the NAHB invoked a new procedure whereby the membership in attendance at the hearing can overrule the committee. However, the membership in attendance voted to affirm the committee’s decision. Therefore, the residential sprinkler requirement for new homes is scheduled to become effective January 1, 2011 in states that adopt the latest version of the Residential Building Code.</p>
<p>Other highlights from the meeting include:
<li>Approval of a code change requiring that all smoke alarms be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 217 and installed in accordance with the household fire warning equipment provisions of NFPA 72.</li><br><br>
<li>Approval of a code change requiring basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room to have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. In basements with one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings will be required in each sleeping room. </li>
<p>A summary of action taken at the ICC Annual Conference is now available at <a href="http://www.iccsafe.org" target="_blank">www.iccsafe.org</a>. A full Report of the Public Hearings is now available. </p>
<p>In September and October 2009, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued recalls due to fire hazard for products as diverse as snowmobiles, rechargeable batteries, lamps, single meter sockets, DVD players, and industrial band saws. It is crucially important for fire investigators to keep up on recall news as it pertains to potential accidental fire causes. Did you know how easy it is to stay up to date? Well, you can simply go to cpsc.gov and sign up for the CPSC recalls e-mail list. Periodically, summaries of all the CPSC recalls will be sent directly to your email address. It’s a convenient and easy way to stay current on products that can potentially cause a fire.</p>
<p>Finally, we close with news from IAAI. In response to the strong interest in the IAAI Fire Investigation Technician professional credential, the IAAI Board of Directors has extended the special reduced application rate of $70 for IAAI members through May of 2010. Information is available on the IAAI website which is www.firearson.com, or from the IAAI office at 1-800-468-4224. </p>
<p>As the end of the year approaches, IAAI reminds all members that, if you itemize tax deductions, you can save this year by renewing your membership before the end of 2009. IAAI staff will be available through the 31st to process membership applications or you can renew online at <a href="http://www.firearson.com" target="_blank">firearson.com</a>.</p>
<p>That concludes this IAAI CFITrainer.Net podcast. We’ll see you again next month.</p>
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.