CFITrainer.Net Podcast

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.

2020
May 2020 Podcast - May '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us this month for a new podcast where we talk briefly about online learning that is available and then we speak with Dr. Peter Mansi, Past President of the IAAI.
April 2020 Podcast - April '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the Podcast we interview President Barry M. Grimm from the IAAI and talk to Wayne Miller, Author of "Burn Boston Burn -The largest arson case in the history of the country.
March 2020 Podcast - March '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the Podcast we talk about some resources for COVID, updates from the IAAI and talk with a fire Marshall in New Hampshire about challenges in their region related to Sober Homes.
January 2020 Podcast - January '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast gives you updates on Australia’s wild fires and an investigation and arrest tied to a large New Jersey fire. We also talk with Zach McCune from Rolfe’s Henry about a case study and course that he and Shane Otto will be leading at ITC this year. Zach talks about an arson fraud case and how spoofing and masking technologies were used to frame an innocent mother and perpetuate an arson fraud.
December 2019 Podcast - December '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In under ten minutes this podcast offers a review of 2019 milestones and new content and features that you might have missed. We also give you a quick preview of what to expect in 2020.
November 2019 Podcast - November '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we learn about two new technology solutions being studied for fire investigation and then we visit with Lester Rich from the National Fire Academy
October 2019 Podcast - October '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast episode, we’re back for the second part of the CCAI live burn training event — the actual burn and post-fire.
September 2019 Podcast - September '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we travel to San Luis Obispo where we were hosted by the California chapter of the IAAI (CCAI). We had a rare opportunity to experience what it’s like to set up this training and experience a wildland burn in California. There was a lot to learn!
August 2019 Podcast - August '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's CFITrainer.Net podcast is under 15 minutes and offers information about fires in electric vehicles and what you need to know.
May 2019 Podcast - May '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month's CFITrainer.Net podcast, you'll hear from ATF Special Agent Chad Campanell, who will discuss how ATF can assist state and local fire investigators with training and investigations, ATF resources available to fire investigators, and ATF's support of CFITrainer.Net. Also, we summarize the final report of a multi-fatality fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania, where ATF cooperated with state and local investigators to reach conclusions.
April 2019 Podcast - April '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. There are two new additions to CFITrainer.Net! A new podcast with Dan Madrzykowski from UL speaking about ventilation and Fire Flow, and a new module called “Fire Flow Analysis”.
March 2019 Podcast - March '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast includes updates from the IAAI related to the election, the upcoming ITC, and a new website specifically about evidence collection. After the updates, you will also hear some news stories related to fire investigation.
February 2019 Podcast - February '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month take 10 mins and hear some fire investigation and IAAI news.
January 2019 Podcast - January '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we’re looking back on some of the biggest issues in fire investigation in 2018.
November 2018 Podcast - November '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk with Jeff Pauley from the IAAI’s Health and Safety Committee. Jeff is an IAAI-CFI and the Chairman of the Health and Safety Committee. In this podcast, he talks about ways to reduce exposure to carcinogens related to fire investigation. By listening, you will learn about ways to reduce your risks, learn about new resources that are available to assist you, and research that is coming soon.
October 2018 Podcast - October '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month meet and learn about IAAI’s new Executive Director, Scott Stephens and plans for the future. After that interview, hear some wild stories from the national news related to fire investigation.
September 2018 News Roundup - September '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts.
Short stories related to fire investigation - June '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us for a brief Podcast that includes five minutes of short stories related to fire investigation.
What you need to know about Arson Awareness week - April '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we welcome Tonya Hoover, the Superintendent of the National Fire Academy. Superintendent Hoover came to the NFA with more than 20 years of experience in local and state government, most recently as the California State Fire Marshal.
Growing pot and earning Bitcoin can start fires? - March '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month’s podcast, hear a story about how the Bitcoin business might be causing fires? What similarities are there between Pot growers and now Bitcoin miners?
Training related to wildland fire investigation - February '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast highlights new training related to wildland fire investigation featuring an interview with Paul Way, and this year’s International Training Conference. We also have a pretty wild story before we wrap up. Birds starting fires?
Smart homes and digital data gathering issues - December '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast, we discuss two topics on the technology and forensics cutting edge. Michael Custer of Kilgore Engineering, Inc. and retired Special Agent Tully Kessler share some knowledge and give us a taste of the classes that they will be presenting at ITC 2018.
Discussion with Writer Monica Hesse - September '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast, you will hear some great news related to the IAAI and CFITrainer.Net and then we have an interview with Monica Hesse, the writer of a new book called "American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land."
Discussion with Criminalist- John DeHaan - June '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the CFITrainer.Net podcast, we talk to Criminalist, fire investigation expert and Author of "Kirk’s Fire Investigation", John DeHaan.
The Ghost Ship - May '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. For this podcast, we hear from a retired Captain of the Long Beach Fire Department, Pat Wills. Pat has been in the fire service for 37 years. He has been a leader and an investigator, now he is an educator speaking around the country about the importance of code enforcement.
Fast Podcast about ITC! - March '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to David Bridges about what to expect at ITC and the training you won’t want to miss.
CFITrainer Podcast- A profile with an IAAI-CFI® - February '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us this month for our podcast as we interview IAAI member and CFI, Jeff Spaulding from Middletown, Ohio. Jeff talks about his work in both the public and private sector and then he shares an interesting story about how a pacemaker is helping in an investigation.
An interview with Dr. James Quintiere - December '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In a discussion with Dr. James Quintiere, we learn about some of his work in fire sciences, a bit about his research, his opinions related to the World Trade Center investigation and what he thinks is important to fire investigation as a scholarly leader in our field.
Fire Investigation After the Flood Podcast - November '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Dan Hebert, an IAAI, CFI about "How Floods affect Fire Investigation."
September 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk about the recent changes in the FAA's regulations for commercial and public sector use of UAS or "Drones".
August 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Jessica Gotthold about the Seaside Heights fire in NJ from 2013
July 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Fire Marshall, Ken Helms of the Enid, OK. Fire Department about his team winning the Fire Investigator of the Year award.
March 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's fire investigation podcast from the IAAI's CFITrainer.Net focuses on the Youth Firesetting Information Repository and Evaluation System, which is called YFIRES for short.
February 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's fire investigation podcast from the IAAI's CFITrainer.Net focuses on what you need to do to ensure the integrity of samples sent to the lab. A conversation with Laurel Mason of Analytical Forensic Associates.
September 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Our podcast related to the legalization of recreational marijuana and its effect on fire investigation was one of the most popular podcasts ever on CFITrainer.Net. This month’s podcast is a follow up with one of our listeners from California who is an investigator doing training on this very topic.
August 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast is about NFIRS where we interview the Executive Director of The National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation, Jim Narva.
July 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this special edition of podcast we’re going to meet the newest IAAI Investigator of the Year, Andrea Buchanan.
May 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Jason McPherson from MSD Engineering to talk about some of these new technology tools.
April 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Dave Perry, a lawyer in Colorado discussing what fire chiefs, fire investigators, and the legal system are seeing in a state with legalized cannabis in regard to fire cause involving marijuana.
February 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Feb '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Mike Schlatman and Steve Carman who are both successful fire investigators and now business owners who have transitioned from the public to the private sector.
December 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews Steve Avato from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives explaining the process of elimination and how it is a critical part of the scientific method.
June 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews the 2014 Investigator of the Year.
April 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews with Don Robinson, Special Agent in Charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Currently stationed at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research, located at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
January 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast takes a look inside the process of revising NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033.
October 2013 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '13 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast focuses on the fire research work of Underwriters’ Laboratories, better known as UL.
February 2013 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '13 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we have an interview with George Codding who returned from a recent trip to Saipan and gives us a closer look at the international activities of the International Association of Arson Investigators
Mid Year 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Mid Year '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast features a mid-year update on the IAAI’s new initiatives and ways for you to get more involved with the organization.
September 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an in-depth look at the recent live-burn fire experiments exercise conducted on Governor’s Island, New York by the New York City Fire Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Underwriters Laboratory, and the Trust for Governor’s Island.
August 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This is a special edition of the CFITrainer.Net podcast previewing the ITC 2013. There’s a new name for the Annual Training Conference from the IAAI now called the International Training conference.
April 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Chief Ernest Mitchell, Jr., the US Fire Administrator. Also we will discuss the upcoming ATC, Annual Training Conference, from the IAAI about to happen in Dover, Delaware.
March 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with ATF Special Agent Billy Malagassi out of the Tulsa, OK Field Office about investigating fires in clandestine drug labs. We also report on NIST’s findings in the Charleston Sofa Super Store fire and IAAI’s Evidence Collection Practicum.
December 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features one of the presenters from this year’s IAAI ATC and see how a single photo broke the Provo Tabernacle fire case.
October 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Deborah Nietch, the new Executive Director of IAAI.
July 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Tom Fee discussing details of investigating wildland fires.
June 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features a lot of exciting things that are happening at CFITrainer.Net
May 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month highlights the IAAI ATC in Las Vegas and the third installment in the "It Could Happen to You" series.
ATC 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - This podcast discusses the upcoming IAAI Annual Training Conference and National Arson Awareness Week.
April 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast announces the release of the program, The First Responder’s Role in Fire Investigation, which teaches first responders how to make critical observations and take important scene preservation actions at a fire scene.
March 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features some of the instructors from the upcoming 2011 Annual Training Conference, to provide a preview of the courses they will be presenting.
February 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features an update on fire grants and an interview with Steve Austin
January 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the release of the new edition of Fire Investigator: Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033, new flammability requirements from UL for pre-lit artificial Christmas trees and a growing fire problem in Dubai with factories turned into worker dormitories.
December 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on home candle fires, lightning punctures in gas piping, and respiratory diseases in the fire services.
November 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - November '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features research findings for structural stability in engineered lumber by UL, the ban on antifreeze in residential sprinkler systems, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation of Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tanks.
October 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features high-profile fire cases, why people leave stovetop cooking unattended and how new sensors under development may improve fire research.
September 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features how to use the ATF’s Bomb Arson Tracking System, IAAI Foundation grants, electrical fires and indoor marijuana cultivation.
August 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on social media as a fire investigation tool, a potential problem with modular home glued ceilings and research from Underwriters Laboratories on the effects of ventilation on structure fires.
July 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast is a roundtable on some of the latest research and technical activities that impact fire investigation, featuring Daniel Madrzykowski (moderator), Steven Kerber, and Dr. Fred Mowrer.
June 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast discusses career advancement, budget cuts and their impact on fire investigation, and the 2010-2016 ATF Strategic Plan.
ATC 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Follow-up and Interviews from Orlando. Learn about the conference, hear what attendees had to say.
May 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. The second in our safety series called "It Could Happen To You." Our Long-Term Exposure roundtable is moderated by Robert Schaal.
April 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. The first of our two-part safety series called "It Could Happen To You." Our roundtable is moderated by Robert Schaal.
March 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features a conversation about legislative affairs affecting the fire service with Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Research Institute.
February 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features our interview with a commercial kitchen’s fire expert about what you need to know when you work a commercial kitchen fire.
January 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features a look at preliminary research on corrosion caused by Chinese drywall, a new database focused on fires in historic buildings, a warning on blown-in insulation, and the launch of the new firearson.com web site.
December 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features cooking fires, highlights of the International Code Council’s Annual Meeting on code requirements, including requiring residential sprinkler systems, and an easy way to keep up with recalls from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
November 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - November '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features chimney fires, including recent news on surgical flash fires, a proposed national arsonist registry, lightning research and an innovation in personal protective equipment.
October 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast is devoted to Fire Prevention Week.
September 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the relationship between climate conditions and fire risk, new research on formulating fireproof walls and the latest in IAAI news.
August 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month takes a look at the dangerous combination of summer heat and oily rags, the rise in vacant home fires, and preview research underway on Australia’s devastating "Black Saturday" brush fires.
July 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month features a look at outdoor grill fires, a fatal fire at a homeless camp in Southern NJ, new NIST research on human behavior during building fires, and IAAI news.
June 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features live reports from the 2009 IAAI Annual Training Conference held in May.
May 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast is dedicated to National Arson Awareness Week.
April 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the NFPA 921 chapter on marine fire investigations and the myth and reality of static electricity as a source of ignition.
March 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month focuses on the rise of the hybrid vehicle and what its unique engineering means for the investigation of vehicle fires, the rash of devastating arson fires in Coatesville, Pennsylvania from December 2008 to February 2009, and news from IAAI.
January 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on the deepening financial crisis in the US and arson for profit fires, how going green may pose a fire hazard and see how rope lighting may be a source of ignition, and IAAI’s Expert Witness Courtroom Testimony course.
December 2008 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '08 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features Christmas tree fires, changes to critical fire investigation publications, the weak economy’s impact on home fires, wind’s effect on structure fires, and ATC 2009.

Rod: Welcome to the CFITrainer.Net Podcast. We continue our tech focus this year with the topic of social media. Social media is a source of information that may be of value in investigations in a number of different ways. In the recent downtown fire in Boundbrook, New Jersey that we mentioned in last month's podcast, the person arrested and charged with arson had been identified in part due to his social media posts threatening to start a fire. In a string of car fires in Hollywood in 2012, Twitter became an important source for information of the incipient fires, including eyewitness videos and photos. So much so that the LA County Fire Department, LA Fire Department, LAPD, and LA County Sheriff's Department combined forces into one Twitter handle to solicit tips. Some of the tips gathered in that event were valuable in the investigation.

In 2017, cell phone videos posted to social media led to homicide charges against the Milwaukee woman who was shown on the video spreading gas from a red can into a just broken window of a home. Flames erupted as she removed her arm from the window. An elderly man died in the fire. The woman who was shown on the video pled guilty and was sentenced. On the other side of the coin during the Australian bushfires at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, online bots and trolls spread false arson claims in a deliberate dis-information campaign that exaggerated the role of arson in the ignition of the fires. It's clear that social media can cut a lot of ways, so let's get into it a little more with our guest Mike Parker, who was with the LA County Sheriff's Office and an active leader in the use of social media. Thanks for being with us, Mike.

Mike Parker: How are you today?

Rod: I'm doing well. We appreciate your time. So let's start out by laying the ways that you've seen that social media can enter into an investigation. What are some of the examples of where you've seen it be useful?

Mike Parker: One is that regardless of what actions we take, people are going to be talking on social media about any given event. So whether you have fire service showing up or law enforcement showing up, people are going to talk about it on social media. So monitoring what people are commenting about your particular event is pivotal. There's lots of good information on there. Frequently people will post photos and videos at the onset of a fire that would be difficult otherwise for fire or law enforcement to obtain. So that's just one of many examples of something you can gain from social media.

Rod: Right off the bat, and it's one of the many proactive things we're talking about, is getting yourself out on social media and getting yourself in a position to monitor the different people in your community. As an investigative tool in terms of soliciting information and tips from eyewitness or community members about the fire incident and the property itself, where does the investigator start? What platforms are we talking about? How do we interact with those platforms to glean investigative information?

Mike Parker: Well, typically you want to go with the ones that are the most commonly used. There's a hundred platforms out there, so it can drive you crazy trying to learn all of them. But certainly Facebook's been around for a long time. Twitter, Instagram, and even NextDoor, oftentimes police and fire forget about NextDoor, which is quite prolific in terms of people sharing things. So those are several that are really leading the way. But then there are new ones pop up, relatively new, like TikTok or others that people will share videos on, some of which, some of these systems, what people post expires and deletes itself after 24 hours.

Rod: So you're monitoring, if you're going to do this, you've got to have an organized effort. Can you talk a little bit about how that effort is organized?

Mike Parker: Sure. It's not effective to learn this during the crisis. It doesn't work. So you need to get involved in it now, so before the crisis. You don't have to personally learn it all. And for most fire and police agencies, they don't have the resources to do a lot of what should be done. So I frequently recommend either a statewide effort or an association to aggregate and be empowered to do some of this stuff. To learn about it, develop expertise in it, and then for multiple fire and police agencies to be able to leverage that. But most importantly, it starts somewhere. If you're going to do anything, at least start with something. And while there's a lot of pros and cons regarding Facebook, it is still the most commonly used platform by the public. So on a priority list, I would probably put Twitter first just because it's so fast to learn and also because it's the most popular by the news media. And they're going to really spread things that they find the public doing.

Rod: Okay. When we started, or I should say when I did an introduction to you, I talked about a string of car fires in Hollywood back in 2012. And I know that's reaching back with somebody who had a caseload like you. Can you talk a little bit about how that became organized? Because you brought a lot of different folks together. LA County Fire, LA Fire Department, LAPD and the Sheriff's Department.

Mike Parker: Sure. That's one of those ugly types of situations where the arsonist ... It's clearly arson fires that's happening repeatedly night after night. And it's difficult to capture the suspect. In this case, there were carport fires occurring, where apartment buildings that have adjoined car ports that have three sides to them, so it's open air on the other side. Somebody was going along and lightened the cars on fire, which of course would then light the apartment building on fire and he's doing it in the middle of the night. So fortunately, fortunately, no one was killed. But there were dozens and dozens of these fires. And they were occurring in Hollywood and the Los Angeles Police Department area and in West Hollywood, in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department patrol area. So you had City Fire and County Fire involved as well. So this person was getting away with it night after night. And we were all chasing these fires, trying to keep people from getting killed.

So what we did was we created a unified command, so to speak, virtually. So we created a Twitter and Facebook account that was agreed upon by LA City Fire, LA County Fire, LA Sheriff, LAPD and ATF, and used it to both share and solicit information about these arson fires. And it was very effective. Frankly, the most difficult thing about it was not using social media, it was getting all the approvals from the different agencies and the trust that they would allow me to message on behalf of five agencies. So we have this now unified ... well we already had a unified command, we didn't have unified messaging. And through the Facebook and Twitter accounts, we were able to unify our messaging, which was important. Because otherwise you have five different agencies releasing information at different points in time, gathering information from five different ways. That's not necessarily ... it's definitely not efficient. But it's not typical that you can get all the agencies to agree, because you have your own protocols.

Rod: So what was the key in your situation?

Mike Parker: I had relationships with public information officers from each of the agencies or with very high ranking people with each agency. So trust was pivotal that we would not release information prematurely and so on. So it was done before the crisis. That was what was pivotal, is that we had those relationships before the crisis.

Rod: Yeah. Once again, like we hear in many of the messages that are given to us by experts, exchanging business cards for the first time during an event isn't a good idea. So a big part of your message that I've heard is, is the preparation and setting up all of the structure in advance and getting yourself ready to go. I also feel or understand how there is content coming in both directions. You know, you're getting content from people on social media, or throughout investigations within social media. And you're getting messages out to people with social media. So how do you verify and corroborate the information on an incident that you get from social media? How do you make sure it's valid? Do you need to follow up with actual in person interviews and documentation?

Mike Parker: Well, that's a great point. Because unfortunately there's people out there that will intentionally lie and create falsehoods, fake news, whatever you want to call it, for whatever thrill they get out of that and divert resources from where they need to be. People with more social media expertise can oftentimes do a quick look at some of the sources and rule out or really reduce the credibility of a source much, more so than you could with a standard phone call. And what I mean by that is, for example, let's say the person who is reporting information to you via social media has an account that clearly was created just a few days before, they've only messaged twice. That's not going to give you a lot of credibility. That's not going to give a lot of credibility to that person. Because they clearly just created the account.

But sometimes people who are legitimate will create a new account because they don't want to give up who they are. Well, we don't want people sharing investigatory information openly on social media anyway. So typically what we're going to do is any kind of tip that comes in via social media, we're going to respond to that person and say, "Hey, could you call us or could you email us?" Or whatever comfort zone they need to be able to communicate with us. So that what they're saying isn't publicly viewable, which means the news media could see it, broadcast it, contact the person and so on. And there are steps that you take to preserve what they share on social media, whether you're conversing with them. Or what's more commonly, they're just blurting out for the world to see their photos, videos or comments about what they've seen. And there's investigatory steps that you take to preserve that information. And what goes right along with that is simultaneously verifying its legitimacy.

Rod: Can you speak to those preservation techniques?

Mike Parker: Sure. It takes a little while to get into the details, but I would say that five key things is, one is access and assess. Two is preliminary basic preservation. Three is authentication. Four is verification. And then five is secure, preserve and document evidence.

Rod: As it is with so many other types of evidence, huh?

Mike Parker: Yeah. And what often is the case too, is that people will post something and then within an hour or two they'll delete it. And there's lots of reason for that. But oftentimes, especially in communities, that have more difficulty with crime or gangs, is that somebody will reach out to them and one of their friends will say, "Hey, you should take that down because otherwise the cops are going to show up and start asking you questions and you don't want that." So their friends start telling them, "Hey, you better delete that." And that's why as soon as you see it, immediately, if nothing else, at least do a screen capture. If you don't have that knowledge on how to do that on a computer screen or whatever you're looking at, take a picture of the screen. So if nothing else, you could use that to then potentially seek a search warrant later, if it was deleted and you ultimately determined that it's potentially really relevant to your case.

Rod: So let's say you're tasked with determining the responsibility of a crime or a fire. How do you go about searching social media, identify persons of interest?

Mike Parker: There are two key ways to find information about any given incident or event. One is a keyword search and two is geo-tagging. So one, keyword search. That's what you do every time you search Google. You take a couple key words like maybe you say you're thinking about, "Well I want to go out to a restaurant. What restaurants are close to me?" And you search restaurant and then the city that you're in. And it comes back with all kinds of restaurant names. Okay? That's a keyword search.

Two is with geo-tagging. As you know, when you turn on your GPS, your phone's location is now identified via satellite, knows exactly where you are. And that then enables you to do what people use it for the most, which is mapping and navigating. Well, when you turn on your geo-tag and you turn it on for a photo or video, that also identifies your exact location where that photo or video was taken. So that, using certain tools, you can find out, "Oh, what geo-tagged information was shared in the vicinity of the fire in the hour or two before, during, and after that period of time?" You can imagine how meaningful that information could be.

Rod: I bet. It's interesting how tempting these privacy issues are when you're ... just as a user. You know, when I go in and I look at, "Ah, do I really want everybody to know where I am at every given moment when I'm on vacation or when I'm doing something?" And the answer usually is I don't care. So I just let it tell the location. For a long, long time that geo-tagging is turned on. I'm guessing that that's the situation with most people.

Mike Parker: Yes. There's a lot more awareness today, especially people, for example, if they have their geo-tag on while they're on vacation and they're in Hawaii, if they're lucky. If they're in Hawaii on vacation, then what they've now telegraphed to anybody that follows the social media is, "I'm not home." great time to burglarize my home. That is a very real situation that occurs pretty regularly. At the same time, people often will leave their geo-tagging on because they're using the mapping and navigating feature and they forget about it. But that's the geo-tagging geo-location for your phone itself. But you can separately turn off or on the geo-tagging on your photographs or videos. So, from a personal safety standpoint, I highly recommend leaving it turned off unless you're going to use it for a purpose like navigating and then immediately turn it back off again.

Rod: Okay. What about if you have a person of interest and you want to review their social media history?

Mike Parker: Sure. Well, there are certainly legal statutes that address that and privacy issues with civil libertarians. And frankly, common sense is that for us to start reviewing, tracking, looking into an individual's social media use for law enforcement purposes as opposed to just your personal life, is that you need to have some kind of probable cause to be looking into that person's individual social media usage. The courts very much frown on us just going around and snooping into people just because. So there needs to be some probable cause. Obviously if someone is a person of interest to you it's because you have that probable cause. You have some type of reasonable suspicion that this person has some kind of involvement.

But oftentimes it can happen where this could very well be a witness. It's not that you think that this person did it, but you have a neighbor tell you, "Well I didn't see what happened but I know Bill was over there the other day and I think he knows the guy that lives there." So then you say, "Okay, well if we look into Bill's social media, he may have posted something about it." We've certainly found plenty, especially video, in the last year or two video has really increased regarding these types of incidents.

Rod: Yeah, so I'm thinking now taking it a step further, you've got this cause and then you need to go further. And I'm thinking about interacting with service providers to get access to information that might not be publicly available. How does that go? How does that happen?

Mike Parker: One example to that point I think is how many people now have Ring doorbell videos, if you're familiar with those, or similar brands. Or they have other kinds of video surveillance on their home or business. And it's on a loop, typically and depending upon how much they invested in their system, it might delete within 24 hours. So you want to, absolutely, I would consider an investigator incompetent to not look throughout the entire neighborhood that could, by any possibility, have videotaped any part of the scene or even a distance away from the scene. Because you could have it where somebody two blocks away has a video camera that's pointed at the street and have gotten the vehicle of the suspect as he's driving away. And some of the people that hear about that, like somebody that I know that there was a fire across the street from their home and they thought it was interesting and they used their home surveillance video and they just posted the video of the fire onto their personal Facebook page.

Rod: Wow.

Mike Parker: But they only posted a fragment of it. So investigators were then able to find, they found that person's post. Then they contacted that person and said, "Hey, could we get the entire video?" Because the guy only posted, you know, 20 seconds. So they got the entire video that showed everything that happened for 20 minutes before. It showed the firefighters knocking down the fire, everything that happened afterwards. And we know that arsonists will often be in the vicinity watching the fire or fire services coming back and forth, that they've got obviously some issues regarding fire. So hanging around watching the fire, it's very interesting to see who's there.

Rod: Yeah, I bet.

Mike Parker: Potentially very relevant to your case. In addition to whether it's the suspect or not, it could be eyewitnesses who had an angle on what occurred, but they weren't the camera angle, they were a completely different angle.

Rod: So a lot can be learned there.

Mike Parker: Absolutely.

Rod: You touched on it a little bit, but I'm wondering if maybe you want to go a little bit further related to the legal hurt or ... Excuse me, the legal hurdles to accessing information on social media. Do you want to address some of that?

Mike Parker: Sure. Probably what's going to come up most often is the rights of a person who has filmed something but they don't want to give you the film. And typically it's with a cell phone. They videoed something and you're asking them for the video. And I'll tell you, I asked this in a room full of investigators and police officers and fire investigators. And say, "Okay, well let's say you found something with your cell phone. Are you willing to give the police officer or arson investigator, give him your cell phone? And he and that investigator says, 'Yeah, we'll give it back to you in a day or two.'?" Maybe one out of a thousand cops would even be willing to do that and they want to put the guy in jail. So what I find best, is number one, is use your cell phone to video what is on their cell phone. So at least you have something, right?

Rod: Good.

Mike Parker: Next is that what you should already have in place is a system where someone using a cell phone could upload their video virtually to a Dropbox of some kind. So your agency should already have this, should already have it in place, where members of the community can share evidentiary video or any kind of video. And I keep saying video rather than photos because photos, typically somebody could email you that. But if they've got video that's not easily ... you can't just send an email with video attached. So you need to have that upload capacity system, and many companies offer that. That, that person could up ... And the level of cooperation from the witnesses from that is very, very high. I mean, it's probably 99%. some of the ones that'll hold back, it's because they want to see if they can sell it to the news media first.

Rod: Anything else I missed?

Mike Parker: No, you've done a fine job. You can tell that we could go on for hours.

Rod: We could. I think people got enough from this. We often get feedback and it's good. And the feedback is also that they don't really want heavy duty, long, intense podcasts. They want to get some information and learn about where else to go and very often hear case studies. And to those of you listening, that's ... We're going to keep working on that. And this year we've got more of a technology theme. So Mike, I'm really grateful for your time. This is a really rich area for investigators that's continually gaining prominence, as more and more cases involve facts gathered from social media. So thanks for joining us today to open the conversation and give us a lot to think about.

Mike Parker: Well, thank you and thank you everybody who's listening and devoting their life to making life safer for everybody else. Thank you.

Rod: Be well, Mike. Be safe out there.

Mike Parker: Take care, bye.

Rod: Moving onto the news at the IAAI, it's almost time for the IAAI's ITC 2020 in Las Vegas. It'll take place this year, April 26th through May 1st. We have a special guest joining us to preview the conference, his name is Trace lawless. He's chair of the IAAI Training and Education Committee. Welcome to the podcast, Trace.

Trace Lawless: Good morning Rod, thank you.

Rod: We're glad you're here. So you're in Las Vegas prepping for this year's ITC. What's got you most fired up?

Trace Lawless: Oh yes, we arrived out here yesterday, the site selection group along with training. And we're really excited to be over at the new venue, Planet Hollywood this year, right down on the strip. Getting things ready to kick this event off on April 26th.

Rod: Anything specific about any of the classes or something that you really grabbed onto this year personally?

Trace Lawless: Yeah, the training group for ITC did an excellent job this year getting everything together. You know, we're going to start off that Monday morning with a case study presented by George Harms and Chad Campanell. It's a Molly Delgado case, which was a double homicide case that they're going to present before the whole conference group on Monday morning. And then we'll follow that up with over 100 hours of training throughout the entire week.

Rod: That's a new way to start things out, isn't it?

Trace Lawless: A little bit. We changed it up a little bit last year. Tried to take a different approach. We listened to our participants in their surveys and comments and came back that they liked the case studies and things directly related to fire investigation. So, that's what we do.

Rod: Great to listen. So how does the IAAI get all these renowned instructors and interesting topics year after year? How does that process work?

Trace Lawless: Well, we start about a year in advance. So in March of 2019 we opened up presentation proposals and those all come into a committee. I think this year we wound up with right at 120 total proposals that came into us. And I have a subgroup that works all year long on reviewing and talking with individuals and looking at their presentations and making sure all the content in the presentations are in compliance with the current 921 and 1033 additions to the NFPA. And that we can back up the presentation fundamentally and scientifically.

Rod: Sounds good. Why don't you tell us a little bit about the fire claims and investigation two day program. You've got a partnership with ICAC or ICAC.

Trace Lawless: That's correct. We've been going for several years with ICAC, the International Committee for Arson Control. We've absorbed their conference and ours. We do it as a partnership. It's turned out very well, so we'll continue doing the insurance track. During that, I believe about a month ago you, on the podcast, CFI Trainer highlighted the case study for framing and fraud spoofing and masking technologies. And technology is just a huge training and educational field within the fire investigation arena today. We'll also follow that up with recognizing some burn patterns to defraud the origin and cause investigator. Douglas Keller has a very good presentation on that and I think it'll be well-received. So we really enjoy our interaction and working relationship with ICAC.

Rod: Yeah, the insurance industry has always been a strong partner since I've been involved with everything going on in fire investigation. And well, that makes a whole lot of sense. Why should investigators .... Talk to the investigators. Why should investigators as professionals go to the IAAITC and what do they get out of it?

Trace Lawless: Well, it's the largest event that's held. This year we'll be well over 700 investigators participating in the conference. Outside of the training, which is top caliber first-class within the industry, it's the opportunity to network, share ideas, look at the future and have conversations amongst other peers within the industry. Because this is a peer-driven industry. As I mentioned before, NFPA 921, 1033, they're peer reviewed documents. And it is very important that we communicate and have that open communication to keep the industry moving in the right direction as far as education, science and law. In addition to that, I mean, it's an opportunity, as we set up the ITC this year at the new venue at Planet Hollywood, we have special events planned each evening for that networking to occur. From the hospitality side of it and the networking side of it, it's that general communication and find out what's happening all over the world. Because we'll have representatives from all over the world here at the conference, the end of April.

Rod: You know, it's always been a really nice size group. Whether it's 500, 600, 700, 800 it's a size group where you can go to these classes and hear something and hear about a case study. And then afterwards I see a lot of people just walk right up and are able to have a conversation. They might wait a few minutes, but they end up having a conversation with the instructors. And often that moves on to the restaurant or the bar and there's a lot of learning, huh?

Trace Lawless: Always, it's continued throughout the whole week. As I indicated, we have over 100 hours of training. That's the formal training in the classroom. And like you said, after that, it's all the other additional conversations. One person may ask a question and the next thing you know there's 10, 12, 15, 20 people standing around having an open dialogue discussion about that topic. You don't see that anywhere else in the industry.

Rod: Yeah. Let's face it as well, I mean, there's a lot of people in the private industry that are making sure they're known. They get out there and let people know what's up in their world. And it seems to be a great opportunity for finding work for the upcoming year and into their career.

Trace Lawless: Well, yes, that definitely goes on as far as building a client base if you're in the independent insurance side of the house. But like myself, I came out of the municipal sector. When I started attending these conferences years ago, that gave me, as a municipal fire investigator, the connections to the people who have the experience and the resources out there that you can pick up the phone and call somebody and say, "Hey, I met you at ITC. I've got this issue going on now." So the connections and the networking is tremendous.

Rod: You know, before we end this, I think there's one thing that's really important. And that is how hard it is for some people to take the time or get the funds to get out to ITC. If you were able to talk to the bosses of a lot of these people, what would you say? What's the argument that you'd give to the people who want to attend?

Trace Lawless: Well, the first conversation we always have is your employees need to be educated. That's the industry today, is education, certification, designations. And they have to show that continuing throughout their career. So when we talk about hosting a large conference like this in Las Vegas, it turns some management heads and say, "Well, it's Las Vegas. You're going on vacation." Believe me, it's not a vacation for anyone attending this conference. And we try to educate the supervisors or managers of that. We show them what we put together and the level of education and how it ties directly back to the standards and the guides that we use within the fire investigation profession.

So it always starts on the educational side. And for the value, I don't think it can be beat anywhere in this industry as far as the value. Because you not only get the educational, you get the networking, but we've got a lot of things built within the conference to make sure that the participant is comfortable, well-taken-care-of and at a reasonable place in a safe location. This hotel is absolutely beautiful. It's a very friendly hotel. A lot of people are always concerned, "Well, you're going to a casino." Truly you don't ever have to go to the casino floor here to be in the conference area. We've done that, we have a designated tower that all of our block of rooms are in. And that room block is filling up fast. We've almost maxed it out and that's always a good thing for us. But we can expand that and welcome as many guests that want to attend the 2020 conference.

Rod: Anything else I'm missing?

Trace Lawless: No, I would just like to throw out there that make sure you get online and register. We're about seven weeks out now from the event kicking off, maybe even a little less than that. Time all runs together when I'm going from the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere else in the world. But make sure you go online, check out what we're offering at the ITC in 2020, reserve your room blocks here at the Planet Hollywood. There's many things included with that room block. So yeah, you can go out there and search and find a cheaper price in another hotel, or possibly here at Planet Hollywood, but you're not going to get the amenities that the IAAI have contracted that every guest of ours gets when they stay at the hotel. And stay for the whole week because we've got a special incentive for all week attendees that will be announced on Sunday at the registration. And we're looking forward to a very exciting, highly educational conference.

Rod: You know, Trace, I always hear education is motivating. So any of those people who can figure out a way to get out there, they can tell their bosses when they come back they're going to be better prepared. And I just believe in the training and education I see when I go out to these. For more information on the IAAI's ITC and to register for this year's conference in spectacular Las Vegas, go to IAAIITC.com or go to FireArson.com And click on the big banner there that's for this year's ITC. Thanks again, Trace.

Trace Lawless: Thank you, Rod.

Rod: For more info on the IAAI's ITC and to register for this year's conference in spectacular Las Vegas, go to IAAIITC.com or go to Fire Arson and click on the icon there or the logo. There's a highlighted area just for ITC. Again, that's IAAIITC.com, or you can go to FireArson.com and click on the link there that's set up for the ITC this year.

Rod: This podcast and CFITrainer.net are made possible by funding from the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security. We also get support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and voluntary online donations from CFITrainer.net users and podcast listeners. Thanks for joining us today on the podcast. Stay safe and we'll see you next time for the IAAI and CFITrainer.net, I'm Rod Ammon.

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