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.
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
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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.