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
August 2020 - This month we talk to a legend in the fire investigation field, Dr. Quintiere, sometimes known as Dr. Q. He has a rich experience in the fire service dating back to the 70’s, and he is working on fire in micro-gravity today.
July 2020 Podcast - July '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this new episode of the CFITrainer.Net podcast, Scott Bennett, talks about the fascinating case he and Mark Shockman worked that won them the IAAI Investigator of the Year Award. You won't want to miss our conversation. And, new IAAI President Rick Jones stops by to discuss what he is excited about for IAAI's growth this coming year — there are a lot of innovative and valuable initiatives on the way.
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.
February 2020 Podcast - February '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast follows along with our technology theme. We look at social media’s effect on some fire investigations and then we talk with Mike Parker about his work with social media while at the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
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 Ammon: Welcome to the CFITrainer.Net podcast. Today, our featured interview welcomes Doug Byron. He's the president and senior forensic chemist at FAST, Forensic and Scientific Testing. Thanks for being with us, Doug.

Doug Byron: Thanks, Rod. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Rod Ammon: We all appreciate your time. All right, Doug, with fats and oils, probably not the first potential fire cause that investigators consider when formulating and testing hypothesis. The first place our minds go to when thinking about fats and oils is spontaneous combustion. Can you give us a little orientation? What's the role of fats and oils in fire ignition, and what are the ways in which fats and oils start fires?

Doug Byron: Yes, the fats and oils and vegetable oils, they are comprised of triglycerides. That's a big word. It's something that's used in health in a bunch of different ways, but it's still fats and oils. The same fats and oils, the similar fats and oils, used in veggie oils. What happens in the configuration of the oils is we have what we call double bonds and these double bonds in these oils would break, and when they break they produce heat. In this veggie oils, we call them, you can have double bonds in three different areas, or two different areas, or one, we call that unsaturation. When these unsaturated fats and veggie oils, we have a potential for what we call self-heating. When these bonds break it produces heat, so if we have a proper configuration of say oil onto cotton rags, and it's exposed to air, then these bonds can break and heat produced. Now there's a neat little mechanism in the way these things can work. When these bonds and these oils are exposed to air and cotton rags, it's the insulating property of the rags will actually generate heat and insulate it. If the heat generated is greater than heat dissipated, we have what we call an exothermic reaction, which means heat's being produced and now it's not being able to escape. It keeps increasing further and further until what we have a thermal runaway. With the thermal runaway will eventually hit an auto ignition temperature of the material, but we go way past that. That's when we have smoke, we have other indicators, horrible acrid odors, and then eventually 700, 800 degrees to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, we can have an open flame ignition. That's just a nutshell of basically how the spontaneous combustion and self-heating will work in rags, for instance in a dryer fire.

Rod Ammon: So, for the less experienced investigators, I'm thinking about rags that were left that had linseed oil, for instance, sitting in the back of the garage. Could you give an example of a fire case where something like that happened?

Doug Byron: Absolutely. Linseed oil is a drying oil and with a drying oil, we will use rags for cleaning and clean up. We'll use the rags to spread the oil. And the oil is wet, so it's going to dry. Normally people just put them in a pile, a box, and just stack them up, and sometimes the phone will ring, we could get distracted, and these rags will just sit there. And over a period of time, they will start to smoke. It smells like recorded statements of tortillas, burning tortillas, over time, and what goes from a pleasant smell to an acrid smell, tons of smoke. And with this smoke, we have this self-heating reaction, which will eventually can lead to open flame ignition. And then with that, we can extend that to actually a fire in your garage. Rod Ammon: All right. How volatile are these fats and oils and do they survive a fire?

Doug Byron: These fats and oils can survive a fire. Now don't forget, these are a little bit different because these are the reactive materials, such as gasoline and normal fire debris analysis in which the gasoline can evaporate and with our data we can see that it's evaporated. Same thing with these oils. We know what these oils look like fresh, the volatility of the oils, and since they are the reacting material, they will degrade. And with degradation over time, we can then see the double bonds break and then they become more saturated. We can see that. If you look at these oils, they're thick, they're heavy, you'd think they would stand time and heat better than ignitable liquids. And they do, for the most part. But say it was a linseed oil with solvent, for instance, a stain, ignitable liquid would be more resilient than the stain itself, because the reactive material would be the stain and it degrades over time. Whereas ignitable liquid would seek the lowest level and it can get into the wood. That's why we do ignitable liquid testing and fatty acid testing at the same time to determine both are present. But they are pretty resilient for the most part, fatty acids are, and we can find those in testing as well.

Rod Ammon: With your expertise, I figure you'd get a lot of calls from the scene, or after an investigation, or during an investigation I should say. How does a fire investigator know when they should consider fats and oils as a potential fire cause and give you a call?

Doug Byron: We get a lot of the calls. Basically, a fire investigator will go through the fire scene and see a potential area of origin, and then they'll go through their elimination of ignition sources. With the scene evaluation, normally you're going to have an isolated fire with the spontaneous combustion fire. It's isolated, maybe just a small ring, maybe from a laundry basket, for instance, and nothing else is burned. And they can say, well, what happened here? We don't have electrical, we don't have access to the structure, and then you can start thinking about asking in the interview, where the people were, what timeframe are we looking? Was there any other heavy smoke damage? And then at that point, you want to consider a self-heating fire, or if you have a dryer and people who deal with massage oils or their restaurants or cooking environment or painters. Anytime you have those key factors, you may want to consider looking into a self-heating or spontaneous combustion reaction. And then you look for some indicators of these reactions, such as the isolated fire, heavy smoke, acrid odors. And the biggest thing is a timeframe. Do you have an extended timeframe, where it's an open flame ignition of common combustibles can extend pretty rapidly, 20 minutes, where these reactions can go up to 80 hours in documented cases. If you have a large timeframe, you may want to look into a spontaneous combustion fire.

Rod Ammon: 80 hours. Help me out there.

Doug Byron: Up to 80 hours, yeah.

Rod Ammon: Just give me a quick, if I was looking into the room, how would I know that that happened? What would it seem like during that 80 hours while that was happening?

Doug Byron: During that 80 hours, the initial say 72-75 hours. You wouldn't know anything. Every day, just common, nothing, just typical. What you'll start noticing before that... If you were to see it before the fire, you maybe start smelling as if someone's cooking, deep frying maybe fish, tortillas, or something of that nature, you can start smelling it. But it doesn't smell that bad. It'll produce white smoke. Once it starts reacting, it gets close to the 80 hours, give them about three or four hours. Hours before the event, it'll start smoking and then your eyes can start watering. And then at that point you can get an open flame. Now after the fire, say the fire investigator comes in and sees this, it's either a pile that's just a circular, burnt material. And normally rags is the medium that these are in, and you'll just see burnt rags and heavy smoke damaging that's if it doesn't get to a bookshelf and start the entire structure on fire.

Rod Ammon: I was wondering just because from a witness perspective, doesn't sound like there'd be a whole lot of time where somebody could... Except for maybe, hey, I smelled cooking. It sounds like by the time it gets acrid, I think as you described it, we're getting down to the last before ignition.

Doug Byron: Yes. The timeframe from smelling really pleasant odors, it's normally going to be after hours. Dark, usually. Normally these are unwitnessed at night. Late fire. You can't see the white smoke and people that are neighbors who are witnessing these, it goes unwitnessed because they say, I thought someone was cooking, for instance. We don't see the smoke and then it just goes on and on and they just turn a fan on. They ignore it. And then they don't think it's what they smelled or witnessed because the fire can be three to four hours later.

Rod Ammon: Interesting. How can the fire investigator test their hypothesis that the fat or oil was the fire cause?

Doug Byron: Well, that's an interesting question that can be tested and it can be tested based off that the data collected at the scene and by the material that's present, the work being done, and some of the interviews. You normally can get some product comparisons of the oils and say, hey, this has a warning label on the can. What can we do? It says warn of spontaneous combustion. Or it can be tested, in which, investigator will do the deductive and inductive reasoning following 921 and either have a lab like us do a physical test on it, or they can put some oil on a rag and they can try it out and see that this can actually happen. We can do the physical test, in which you get the timeframe when they started working, and then when the time of fire and to work between that, and see if it's possible in the timeframe that this material being used in the work being done can produce a fire in that timeframe. You can test out positive and then you can do the chemical test to verify that the oil is in fact capable of self-heating.

Rod Ammon: So with evidence collection analysis, what testing is available for fats and oils and what will the results tell the investigator?

Doug Byron: The fats and oil test actually is an ASTM method. I believe it's 2881, in which the fire debris that's collected, such as the rags or the wood under the pile, or say something similar nearby, the fire analysts can use the regular fire debris test methods for ignitable liquids, and then using the same type of equipment without having to get new equipment or do something different, we can actually do a different extraction technique. And then with the same fire debris column, we can actually run the fatty acid under the ASTM protocols, and then see what one saturated, fatty acids or fats and oils are present, which would dictate the tendency it has to self-heat. And then we can take the forensic approach and see if it's degraded and say, saturated or mono unsaturated, one double bond, then we can deduce that that oil, had a higher tendency or more double bonds, before the fire.

Those tests can be done just with the request, or usually when we see something come in from a dryer or rags from a porch, we'll talk to the investigator and ask if there's a scenario, if there's anything going on in which they need a different test run to better supply them with data and results, that would be more beneficial to the case if they suspect self-heating.

Rod Ammon: All right. A lot of times that I've spoken to people at the lab, they have desires or wishes of the fire investigators. What are the kinds of things that you'd like them, or would make their evidence collection better?

Doug Byron: What normally happens, I recommend, is they pick up the phone and call and go through it with their laboratory what they have, and then you can see if there's oily substance on your glove, anything oily, and they'll tell me, they'll describe what they have. Because each fire scene is always different. Sometimes you just have powder debris. Sometimes you have greasy debris. Sometimes you still have towels available or rags. And I just tell them to look around the scene, see if there's rags that are there, that say the painters may have missed, or just basically anything that could support a self-heating reaction or spontaneous combustion, so we can find out and give them the best opportunity to collect data. And then they can use that for their hypothesis or their conclusions. Then we can go from there.

Rod Ammon: Once they've been told, or once you've had that conversation on the phone, you want to give some hints of that can help them with properly collecting and preserving fat and oil samples?

Doug Byron: Yes. Try to get samples that aren't ash and debris. Try to get rags that are still not totally burned and more of the comparison oil. If we know what, say it was a cooking oil, it was a linseed oil, or a drying oil, or Sherwin-Williams, or Valspar. If we can have comparison oils that helps. But the debris itself, normally collected debris just as you would if you were looking for ignitable liquids, get something to absorb it. The towels, for instance, if they're white, they're partially burned is better. And then you can get some of the burnt stuff, which we know if it's totally consumed and falling apart in your hands is probably going to be negative, but it still tells a story. The debris should match, and the data hopefully will match, the scene itself.

Rod Ammon: I'm guessing the comparison oils, or whatever it is that you're looking for, very often are in the garage or down in the basement?

Doug Byron: It can be, and it can be that it's on an invoice, in which you go to the ACE Hardware and buy Minwax, and once you get mahogany Minwax stain, then we can purchase it at that point. Or it can be obtained, procured, some way, but yeah, normally it's going be in the garage. It could be from the painters or whatever skillset been there, you normally can have some. Or they actually have the cans that have been burned and crushed due to fire that can have some residue in the cans and the labels would be burned off, but we can just test the liquid still and see if it has to do with what's in the debris, which goes into other cases of subrogation in which the painters could be there, the stainers doing something else, and people saying that's not our oil, those aren't our rags, and so you can basically just try to take, if it's a can and it has something in it, you just try to take that. Or a little bit of it into a glass jar and just run them and compare them to the debris.

Rod Ammon: Might be a crazy question, but who knows, I'm wondering, have you ever been involved in a fire that turned out to be intentionally set that involved oils?

Doug Byron: Intentionally set. Allegedly. A couple of cases. These reactions are very difficult to prove intent when in fact, if the work being done is to use this material and if the time delayed to light, really, because it may or may not go to full open flame or combustion, due to many factors, such as reactive depletion of the oil, there's not enough oil, or not enough access to air, or something disrupts it and so it might not work. It's a very suspect, very difficult reaction, to plan and to predict for folks if you rarely do it, but there have been a couple scenarios where it was alleged that it was in use for intentional fires.

Rod Ammon: All right. Well, I just felt like be good to ask. Always creativity going on out there. Anything I'm missing that we're missing here, as far as things that we should communicate out to the fire investigator?

Doug Byron: Those are the basics. There's a few books out there. A couple chapters. Chapter 14 of the Fire Debris Analysis book by Stauffer, 2008. It has a pretty good section to describe these fats and oils. I just finished chapter four of the Forensic Analysis of Fire Debris and Explosives. It's by Springer Publishers, and it goes through more in depth what we described. It's written for layman's, really, for just everyday people just not get caught up in chemistry, but to understand how these every day oils can in fact cause fires. And you can include that or exclude that in the investigators hypothesis based off of the indicators we've mentioned. It basically just gives a thorough slower version of what we discussed.

Rod Ammon: I'm trying often, and this is something I didn't talk to you about when we chatted a little bit before, but I'm often thinking about case studies or a situation that you can share, where there was some interesting results tied to our conversation. Anything about a specific case without giving away identity?

Doug Byron: There's a bunch of really neat cases, some resulting in bad things happening. Dryer fires are notorious. Probably the most common today. For instance, there was a lab inspection and going through trying to include or exclude the dryer was it a drum fire, so we can suspect self-heating or spontaneous combustion, a lint fire, bearing failure, heating element. They're going through that and called me in and looking through the debris inside the drum. It's just very hard debris. Get down to the bottom and then there's rags and you can smell the telltale smell of the self-heating fire, and then there's still some oily rags and then they were able to determine that the dryer was off at the time of the fire. The door was closed and then opened and was not affected. Basically, this was a localized fire that extended in the laundry room. But that scenario, you can take that same scenario throughout every state in the country and it can extend and then cause bodily harm and death, resulting in death these reactions. But normally they go unnoticed and a lot of the cases, in the dryer cases, that dryer may sit there for inspection for a year or two, or three, and by that point, we don't have much of the evidence left, the volatile organic oils have oxidized and solidified, and we don't have anything left. Negative sample.

That's an example of testing the debris as soon as you can as possible, because once you get attorneys and insurance companies involved they want to have everybody available for inspection. Some of the other higher profile cases was in Savannah with the high profile food manufacturer making fish sticks. They were building a house and it was spontaneous combustion was far from basically being relevant. I had gas landed on the front of the house and had the painters just showed up. They hadn't even done any work. And they were saying it's a spontaneous combustion fire. But the neat thing about these fires is they're unwitnessed, but video cameras and CCTV plays a critical role in this particular fire in which then the Atlanta Gas Light, which is a gas company, producing gas and the lanterns on the front of the house, were they involved?

What we had a video from the Marina facing the house, and then in flashover we can see that the painter’s equipment and material inside the house. We basically concluded with all the testing that self-heating firing and spontaneous combustion was not the cause of the fire. So, it can go both ways.

There's other interesting cases of extension from spontaneous combustion fires that resulted in death of unsuspecting people just from extension and as the fire progressed, people sleeping, because it does happen late at night, usually as an unwitnessed fire.

Rod Ammon: Well, I hope more and more people are getting educated to how they happen.

Doug Byron: Well, I've been actively pursuing the spontaneous combustion for 20 years and there were many, many fire chiefs and some of the older ones, they basically said, this event didn't occur. And as we see the time goes on, now we have written standards for testing fire debris for fatty acids. So now it's become recognized as a problem with dryers and staining and painters and some of the other things. So now we can put those indicators and science and chemistry and physical tests together to put both science, which is normally the lab, they refer to them as technicians, I refer to as a scientist, and we can take that data from us, put it with the fire investigator and see if that fits the hypothesis or doesn't fit the hypothesis, either way. But we're more integral to the investigation, which is more fun to me as an analyst than it is just to sit in a lab.

Rod Ammon: Well, speaking of fun, it sounds like you enjoy teaching. I thought maybe I would give you an opportunity to talk about some of the training that you do.

Doug Byron: Yes, I do like doing that. I do get excited and passionate about it, because it is interesting and fun. I go have these classes put together. It's normally a full day. What I like to do is talk about how fiber analysis and some of these stains and oil work together. We can look and see the mineral spirits, or MPD, in the product and the stain work together in the new adaptions of decrease in volatile organics and yet still having a stain.

What I like to do is teach about that, in the meantime, on breaks, I go out and set up scenarios and set up a demonstration of self-heating reactions and spontaneous combustion. And then in the afternoon it has enough time to react. And then sometimes I'll put potting soil out there, and then we'll let the investigators go and witness the odors, witness the smoke, and then see how much smoke, and they can see for themselves if they have a spontaneous combustion or suspect a spontaneous combustion fire, they would have witnessed one. And then they could think about their experience with the class and then use that on site and on their scene and to ask questions and to hear the answers that they may indicate that it was a self-heating fire.

I do like doing that and then we can let them see the temperatures and some of the other thermal couples. We can see that it not only reaches auto ignition temperature of the cotton rag, it exceeds it sometimes two and three times that temperature. Auto ignition does not equal spontaneous combustion or self-heating fires.

Rod Ammon: It continues to amaze me. I know a lot of people who are involved in fire investigation and they talk about this like. "Oh, yeah, it happens all the time." And it's still amazing. When I'm out there working on something in the garage and I start walking to the back of the garage with the rag and I'm like, no, you can't do that. Don't leave that hanging out there.

Doug Byron: It's interesting with fats and oils, don't mistake the oils to being petroleum oil, which is motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid. Those have already oxidized and won't self-heat, or are not suspect to it. But there are many videos that I have of restaurant fires in which you just look at a simple rag with corn oil or peanut oil, soybean oil, or one of the cooking oils and grilling oils, and you wouldn't suspect that rag, or two or three of those, after they come out of the laundry room in a restaurant, you fold them, put them on a shelf and walk away. Everybody's happy. 11:00, 12:00 at night, and the closed circuit television at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning sees white smoke drifting by.

There's lots of videos of those two. And then hopefully it doesn't extend past the rack from when they dried the towels, but it happens a lot. Most of the time, thank goodness, it doesn't extend and burn the structures down, but not only do they, but they will, and it can cause millions of dollars of damage, including death.

Rod Ammon: Well, Doug, I appreciate you coming on the podcast with us today to highlight this. We typically don't get a lot of attention towards this fats and oils topic. I know Bobby Schaal had said to me, "You should talk to Doug. This should be a conversation you guys should have to share with everybody."

Doug Byron: Thanks, Rod. Thanks for having me.

Rod Ammon: All right. Be well, Doug. For guidance on evidence collection, we have a link on this podcast page to the IAAI's evidence collection guide.

COVID-19 continues to be a primary concern for the fire service and law enforcement. Fire investigators should already be well versed in the use of PPE to mitigate exposures to carcinogens at the fire scene. But the biological nature of COVID-19 transmission should cause investigators to reexamine their sanitation and personal protection practices. Some things to think about include: • Sanitizing skin and disinfecting tools before, during, and after scene examination and interpersonal contact. • Refraining from sharing tools with others. • Wearing gloves throughout the investigation, particularly when touching high touch surfaces at the scene. • Assessing the respiratory and eye protection you select for its ability to prevent breathing in or absorbing respiratory droplets without sacrificing mitigation of other airborne particles found at fire scenes. • Wearing breathing protection when in contact with other emergency responders and the public. • Providing masks to persons you speak with or interview who do not have them. • Practicing social distancing when speaking with other professionals at the scene or interviewing witnesses. • Considering conducting interpersonal contact, including interviews, in exterior locations rather than inside buildings. • And disinfecting your vehicle regularly after fire scene examinations and interpersonal contact.

Resources are available from the IAFC to assess the impact of COVID-19 on various aspects of the provision of emergency services, including communication and contact with the public, PPE, mass gatherings, and civil unrest. You can now support the IAAI Foundation through AmazonSmile. Through this program, you can designate the IAAI Foundation as beneficiary of a donation by Amazon of 1.5% of your purchases that you make at smile.amazon.com. To designate the IAAI Foundation as your AmazonSmile beneficiary, go to smile.amazon.com/ch/26-3805346. Or I think when you go to smile.amazon.com and it asks you to fill that out, you can search out the IAAI Foundation. I'm pretty sure that's what I did. Once you complete this designation, you do your Amazon shopping from the smile.amazon.com URL and 1.5% of your purchases will be donated to the IAAI Foundation.

Just to note, we'll look forward to speaking with President Rick Jones next month and find out more about his agenda for the rest of this year and beyond.

This podcast and CFITrainer.Net are made possible by funding from a fire prevention and safety grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security. Support is also provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and voluntary online donations from CFITrainer.Net users and podcast listeners like you.

Thanks for joining us today on the podcast, stay safe. We'll see you next time. Let somebody know about the podcast and give us your feedback if you can, on the feedback form at the end of the page. Once again, be safe out there. For the IAAI and CFITrainer.Net, I'm Rod Ammon.

The IAAI Foundation on Amazon Smile.

COVID-19 Resources from the International Association of Fire Chiefs

The IAAI Fire Scene Evidence Collection Guide.