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 January 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast. During this month’s podcast, we’ll 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. Let’s get started.</p>
<p>Our main story this month is research into the potential corrosive effects of Chinese drywall. The devastating hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 were a main driver behind a construction boom in 2006 and 2007. Many of the homes built in this period, especially in the humid Southern United States, used Chinese drywall in their construction. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received over 2,800 reports of a variety of poor health symptoms and the corrosion of metal components in homes that have Chinese drywall. </p>
<p>As a result of these complaints, the CPSC has undertaken an investigation of Chinese drywall to determine if it is the cause of these health complaints and metal corrosion. The research has three components: evaluation of the relationship between the drywall and the reported health symptoms; evaluation of the relationship between the drywall and electrical and fire safety issues in the home; and the tracing of the origin and distribution of the drywall. The concern is that moisture combined with the chemicals found in the Chinese drywall are corroding the metal parts of the home, causing electrical hazards and compromising the integrity of fire safety equipment. </p>
<p>In November 2009, the CPSC released preliminary findings on its research into the electrical and fire safety issues possibly created by Chinese drywall. The research into possible electrical issues has found a strong association between the problem drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes with that drywall, and corrosion in these homes. A preliminary visual inspection by CPSC Electrical Engineering staff on all of the harvested electrical components in the tested homes revealed substantial corrosion of copper wiring, but there were no indications of significant overheating of conductors or conductive parts due to the corrosion. Elemental analyses of both forms of corrosion indicated the presence of copper, sulfur, and small amounts of oxygen, which strongly suggested the presence of copper sulfide and copper oxide. A number of severely corroded receptacles were examined and the wires attached to these receptacles showed several morphologies of copper corrosion products including cauliflower-shaped nodules and spongiform texture. The corrosion nodules were readily found on the surface of the exposed copper wires, while the spongiform texture appeared in micro-cavities beneath the corrosion nodules. The overall thickness of the corrosion layer varied from almost zero to twenty micrometers. Corrosion of copper wiring is most extensive where bare copper was exposed. Intact electrical insulation on copper wiring appeared to protect the underlying copper conductor from corrosion.</p>
<p>In the fire safety components portion of the preliminary research findings, an initial examination of copper natural gas supply tubing and air conditioner heat exchanger coils found a thin black layer of copper sulfide on all of the copper samples examined. Corrosion products were also observed on other types of metals in the air conditioning coils in the areas where condensation would frequently make the metals wet. None of the samples examined were failed components and no evidence of an imminent failure was found on any of the samples. All of the corrosion damage observed was consistent with a general attack form of corrosion that progresses in a uniform manner. The sample size is currently too small to draw conclusions on whether or not this corrosion may cause a failure. </p>
<p>Ongoing laboratory tests continue to investigate the nexus between safety and the short and long-term effects of such corrosion. Updates can be found at <a href="http://www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html" target="_blank">cpsc.gov/info/drywall</a>.</p>
<p>In other news, English Heritage has created FReD, or Fred, the Fire Research Database, on behalf of Great Britian’s Historic Buildings Fire Research Coordinating Committee to foster the sharing of unpublished knowledge about fires in historic buildings and to encourage the development of joint research to improve the protection of historic buildings from the effects of fire. The database includes buildings from many countries, not just Britain. The database of projects, research reports, and other documents covering many aspects of fire and fire investigations in historic buildings can be searched online at <a href="http://fred.english-heritage.org.uk/" target="_blank">fred.english-heritage.org.uk</a>.</p>
<p>A recent series of 55 fires in Melbourne, Australia has thrown a light on improper installation of blown-in insulation as a fire cause. Companies were inducing consumers to take advantage of a national rebate program using door-to-door sales techniques, but, unfortunately, installers provided by these companies were not properly trained in how to install the blown-in insulation. Like many home contracting services, when blown-insulation is not properly installed around electrical fixtures, overheating, fault, and fire can result. Fire investigators should remember to always consider whether improper installation could have been a fire’s cause.</p>
<p>Finally, we close with news from IAAI. </p>
<p>The IAAI Board of Directors of the International Association voted unanimously to formally endorse the Bomb Arson Tracking System or (BATS) as a vital tool for professionals who work in the field of fire, arson, and explosives investigation. BATS is a web-based repository of information on bombing, explosives and arson incidents. Fire investigators have 24/7 access to the database and the ability to share information with other fire investigators in the course of their investigations. BATS also facilitates trend analysis and incident comparison to identify potential perpetrators. IAAI is urging all professional fire and arson investigators and their agencies to use BATS as a tool to participate in providing incident information that will assist other investigators and agencies as they conduct the investigation of bombing, explosive, and arson incidents. BATS is available at <a href="https://www.bats.gov/batsnet/" target="_blank">bats.gov</a>.</p>
<p>Also in IAAI news, the new firearson.com web site debuted this month. The site has been expanded considerably and features a new graphic look and easy navigation. Highlights of the new firearson.com site include:
<li>Easy online membership purchase and membership renewal</li><br><br>
<li>A continuously updated news feed of fire-related articles</li><br><br>
<li>A compendium of all IAAI’s professional development opportunities</li><br><br>
<li>A simplified training calendar format with expanded course information</li><br><br>
<li>A new section devoted to Chapter activities</li><br><br>
<li>Complete corporate and staff information about IAAI</li></ul></p>
<p>More features will be added to the site in the coming months, including merchandise for purchase, an archive of IAAI publications, a newsroom and press releases. Check back often as the new site grows.</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.