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 March 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast. 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. We’ll also introduce a new recurring podcast segment "Get A’s from Dr Q," where Dr. James Quintiere will answer your questions about fire science. </p>
<p>While topics like healthcare reform, bailouts, and stimulus dominate the headlines coming out of Washington, DC, many fire investigation professionals may not know that every day, Congress is considering pieces of legislation that directly impact the fire service. Currently, Congress is tackling a diverse range of fire related issues, including reauthorization of the Fire Grants Program, collective bargaining rights for public safety officers, fire scene employment-related adverse health exposures, and a fire sprinklers incentive program. The Congressional Fire Services Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute that educates Members of Congress about fire and life safety issues. Bill Webb, the CFSI Executive Director, is with us today to talk more about how Congress’ actions affect fire investigators. Bill, welcome.</p>
<p>BILL: It’s a pleasure to be here. </p>
<p>Q: So why should fire investigators be interested in legislative affairs? And how does Congress, what they do or do not do, affect the individual fire investigator?</p>
<p>BILL: There’s a lot of interesting issues up on Capitol Hill that deal with funding for the fire service and that includes arson investigators, that includes fire service personnel, that includes the training facilities, and, you know, as Congress grapples with these issues, everyone involved in public safety really has a vested interest in the outcome of Congress’ decisions. If you look at the budget proposal submitted by the Obama Administration, they put $305 million in there for the Fire Act and they put $305 million in for the SAFR program. Fire last year was funded at $390. At one point it was funded at $750 million so the trend is downward, and again, against this backdrop of mounting federal budget deficit, if we just kind of sit on our hands and be complacent, you know, we can’t expect to maintain funding let alone try and bump up funding for the programs. </p>
<p>On April 28th-29th the Congressional Fire Services Institute will host the 22nd annual national fire emergency services dinner and seminars program. We’ll have about 2,000 national fire and emergency service leaders in town for this program including a large number of arson investigators. We will have the leaders of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus including Congressman Steny Hoyer, who is the House majority leader, Senator McCain, Senator Carper, Congressman Andrews, Congresswoman Emerson and a whole host of other members of Congress and administration officials speaking at both the seminar program and the dinner itself. It’s a great opportunity for the fire service community to show who they are in Washington, DC. When you get 2,000 of your leading fire and emergency services officials in Washington, DC up on Capitol Hill on the same day, it sends a strong message just about the efficacy of the fire service and emergency services in terms of advocating these issues in one voice, and again, that’s what April 28th and 29th is all about, and information about that event, again, is available on our website.</p>
<p>Q: What is the Congressional Fire Caucus?</p>
<p>BILL: Well, the caucus and the institute, if you don’t mind, the institute is one thing and the caucus is the other. The institute is a 501C3 non-profit, non-partisan policy institute that was set up in 1989 to educate Congress about the big picture, the big picture of the fire service, the issues that affected the chief, the union, the volunteers and the academies. We look at the issues that impact everybody the same. The caucus, on the other hand, is comprised of members of Congress. It’s the largest caucus in Congress with over 300 members, both sides of the political aisle, republicans and democrats. In fact, we have some independents on board as well. We have four co-chairs on both the House and the Senate side and there are four republicans and four democrats. So it’s a bipartisan driven caucus that takes a lot of the partisan politics out of the public safety issues, and so you get, you know, leaders from both sides of the aisle addressing the fire service issues, again, in a bipartisan fashion.</p>
<p>Q: So what are the current hot issues CFSI is working on with Congress?</p>
<p>BILL: There are a ton of important issues that we’re dealing with right now. Again, the appropriations for fiscal year 2011, and that’s funding for the Fire Act, it’s funding for SAFR and let’s not forget the United States Fire Administration that does a great job up there in Emmetsburg under the leadership of Fire Administrator Cochran. We’re also looking at the reauthorization of both those programs, both fire and SAFR. They’re up for reauthorization. We’ve been working for the past six, seven months with the Fire Caucus leadership and the chair and ranking members of the oversight committees up on Capitol Hill with the reauthorization process, and the House did take action last year to pass a reauthorization measure and now the focus is on the Senate side. We’re waiting for the Senate to introduce a bill and hopefully it will mirror the house version. If that’s the case, then it will glide right through the Senate and be signed by the President. If there are any differences between the House and the Senate bills, then they do have to be worked out in a conference, and that can kind of like protract the process, so that’s one issue, that’s another issue.</p>
<p>We’re working on the fire sprinkler incentive act, a great piece of legislation. We live in a reactionary society. It came about as a result of the tragic fire in 2003 up in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that claimed the lives of a hundred concert goers in a non-sprinklered concert venue. It would accelerate the depreciation on automatic sprinkler systems in public buildings from approximately 35 years down to five years. We’ve been working on that bill for seven years with a coalition of sprinkler advocates. </p>
<p>We’re also working on a public safety officers benefit program. If a firefighter falls in the line of duty, if a public safety officer falls in the line of duty, and they will and the family members will collect a benefit to the tune of about 300, oh gosh, $340-$350,000. Legislation was approved I believe about three, actually about four or five years ago which would grant the benefit to firefighters who fall in the line of duty as the result of a stroke or heart attack. The administration was slow in fulfilling the intent of Congress when it approved the PSB legislation, again about five or six years ago, and so it’s something that we continue to monitor to make sure that, you know, when a firefighter does die as a result of a heart attack or stroke that those benefits, that there’s no delay in getting those benefits out to the family members. So those are pretty much the priority issues that CFSI is addressing with the other national fire organizations.</p>
<p>Q: How can fire investigators stay current on what is happening in Congress?</p>
<p>BILL: Well, you know, my message to the investigators and everyone, you know, a lot of great websites out there. Again, if you look at our website, <a href="http://www.cfsi.org" target="_blank">www.cfsi.org</a>, if you look at all the other major organizations, they have a list of all the legislation that they are monitoring, and you’ve got to know who your members of Congress are. Your representative might be serving on the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House or on the Senate. Your member might be serving on a ways committee or a ways and means committee or the finance committee. If that’s the case, those committees have under their jurisdiction the most important pieces of legislation that we’re looking at right now, and again, that’s reauthorization of fire, SAFR and the sprinkler bill. If your member sits on the appropriations committee, they are the ones that are going to be setting the figure for the grant programs. So, again, you really need to understand who your members are and you need to establish a better working relationship with them. </p>
<p>Q: You know, you mentioned finance, Bill. How do fire investigators find out about current federal grant opportunities?</p>
<p>BILL: Well, again, if you go on the USFA website, they do have information on the various federal grant programs available. Again, and if there’s another agency, all the agencies have great websites. All the agencies, you know, will have on their websites a listing of their grant programs. You know, it’s not going to be on the front page of those websites. You might have to do a little investigative work, but heck, well you know, arson investigators, that’s their line of work, but again, I would start with the USFA and go onto their website and they’ve got, you know, they’ve got postings for fire and that includes prevention research, investigations, that includes SAFR and so that would be my first recommendation is to go on that website. </p>
<p>Thanks, Bill. We appreciate you joining us today and the good work that you do over at CFSI. </p>
<p>In the upcoming podcast, we’re beginning a new feature, "Get A’s from Dr. Q." Dr. James Quintiere is the John L. Bryan Professor of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland. He is well-known in the fire science community as a leading scholar in fire behavior. In future podcasts, Dr. Q will be answering your questions about fire science, fire behavior, the mathematics of fire calculations, the physics of fire or just about anything you can ask related to fire science. To submit a question for Dr. Q to answer in a future podcast, please email <a href="mailto:askdrq@cfitrainer.Net">email@example.com</a>. That’s <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.</p>
<p>Finally, we’ll close with some news from IAAI. The IAAI Annual Training Conference is fast approaching. The time to register is now so you can make your plans to attend ATC from May 16-21, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. In addition to seminars on the hottest topics in fire investigation, this year’s ATC offers the opportunity to earn and test for the new Fire Investigation Technician credential at the conference. IAAI has released a video preview that highlights the classes, speakers, and Orlando attractions. The preview is available at <a href="http://www.cfitrainer.net/news/Fire_Investigator_Training-ATC_2010_Orlando.aspx"> cfitrainer.net/OrlandoATC</a>. Again, that video preview is available at CFITrainer.Net.</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.
One of the legal proceedings that may require the fire investigator to testify is a deposition. Depositions are often related to civil proceedings, but more and more jurisdictions are using them in criminal cases.
Deposing attorneys employ a variety of tactics to learn about the expert witness giving testimony, to try to unsettle that witness to see how he/she handles such pressure, and to probe for weaknesses to exploit.
The program discusses the basics of digital photography for fire investigators as well as software and editing procedures for digital images intended as evidence.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in civil proceedings such as fire loss claims and product defect lawsuits.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in criminal proceedings.
This module covers the foundation of DNA evidence: defining, recognizing, collecting, and testing.
This program provides a practical overview of how to perform the baseline documentation tasks that occur at every scene.
This module will discuss the techniques and strategies for conducting a proper science-based fire scene investigation and effectively presenting an investigator’s findings in court as an expert witness.
This program explains the basic principles of how electric and hybrid vehicles are designed and work, including major systems and typical components.
This module presents critical electrical safety practices that every fire investigator should implement at every scene, every time.
In this program, we will look at emerging technologies that fire investigators are integrating into their daily investigative work with great success.
This self-paced program examines the fire investigator's ethical duties beyond the fire scene.
As social media has emerged as a powerful force in interpersonal communications, fire investigators are being confronted with new questions...
Should you work for a private lab as a consultant if you are on an Arson Task Force? How about accepting discounts from the local hardware store as a “thanks” for a job well done on a fire they had last year?
This module takes investigators into the forensic laboratory and shows them what happens to the different types of fire scene evidence that are typically submitted for testing.
This module teaches the foundational knowledge of explosion dynamics, which is a necessary precursor to investigating an explosion scene.
This module addresses the foundations of fire chemistry and places it within the context of fire scene investigations.
The program is designed to introduce a new Palm/Pocket PC application called CFI Calculator to users and provide examples of how it can be used by fire investigators in the field.
This module examines these concepts to help all professionals tasked with determining fire origin and cause better understand fire flow dynamics so they can apply that knowledge to both to fire investigation and to fire attack.
This module provides a road map for fire officers to integrate and navigate their fire investigation duty with all their other responsibilities and describes where to obtain specific training in fire investigation.
The evaluation of hazards and the assessment of the relative risks associated with the investigation of fires and explosions are critical factors in the management of any investigation.
This module will describe the most commonly encountered fire protection systems.
This module presents best practices in preparing for and conducting the informational interview with witnesses in the fire investigation case.
This module provides instruction on the fundamentals of residential building construction with an eye toward how building construction affects fire development.
This module provides introductory information on the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard – 29 CFR 1910.120.
This module teaches first responders, including fire, police and EMS, how to make critical observations.
The program examines the importance of assessing the impact of ventilation on a fire.
This program discusses how to access insurance information, understand insurance documents, ask key questions of witnesses, and apply the information learned.
This module offers a basic introduction about how some selected major appliances operate.
This program introduces the fire investigator to the issues related to the collection, handling and use of evidence related to a fire investigation.
This program takes you inside the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) archives of some of the most interesting and instructive test burns and fire model simulations they have ever conducted.
The program provides foundational background on the scope of the youth-set fire problem, the importance of rigorous fire investigation in addressing this problem, and the role of key agencies in the response to a youth-set fire.
This module provides a thorough understanding of the ways an investigation changes when a fire-related death occurs.
This self-paced program will help you understand what to expect at a fire where an LODD has occurred, what your role is, how to interact with others, and how to handle special circumstances at the scene.
This program will introduce the fire investigator to the basic methodologies use to investigate vehicle fires.
This module presents the role natural gas can play in fire ignition, fuel load, and spread; the elements of investigating a fire in a residence where natural gas is present; and the potential role the gas utility or the municipality can play an investigation.
This self-paced program covers fundamental legal aspects of investigating youth-set fires, including the juvenile justice system, legalities of interviews and interrogations, arson statutes, search and seizure, and confidentiality.
This program discusses the latest developments in expert testimony under the Daubert standard, including the MagneTek case recently decided in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
This module focuses on how to manage investigations that have “complicating” factors.
This module uses the Motive, Means, and Opportunity case study to demonstrate how responsibility is determined in an arson case.
This program covers the general anatomy of a motor vehicle and a description of typical components of the engine, electrical, ignition, and fuel systems.
This self-paced program is the second part of a two-part basic introduction to motor vehicle systems. This program describes the function and major components of the transmission, exhaust, brake, and accessory systems.
This module educates the investigator about NFPA 1033’s importance, its requirements, and how those requirements impact the fire investigator’s professional development.
This module reviews the major changes included in the documents including the use of color photos in NFPA 921 and additional material that supports the expanded required knowledge list in NFPA 1033 Section 1.3.7.
The program illustrates for the fire investigator, how non-traditional fire scene evidence can be helpful during an investigation.
This module introduces the postflashover topic, describes ventilation-controlled fire flow, illustrates how the damage left by a postflashover can be significantly different than if that fire was extinguished preflashover.
This module demonstrates the investigative potential of information stored on electronic devices.
This module explains the relationship between NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921
This module lays the groundwork for understanding marine fires by covering four basic concepts that the investigator must understand before investigating a marine fire.
In this module, you will learn more about how cancer develops, what occupational exposure risks to carcinogens exist at fire scenes, and how to better protect yourself against those exposures.
The use of the process of elimination in the determination of a fire cause is a topic that has generated significant discussion and controversy in the fire investigation profession.
This module teaches the basics of the electrical power generation, distribution, and transmission system.
This module presents the basics of natural gas and its uses and system components in a residence.
The basics of the scientific method are deceptively simple: observe, hypothesize, test, and conclude.
This module explains the principles of search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as contained in the amendment and according to subsequent case law, and applies them to typical fire scene scenarios.
This module addresses the foundations of thermometry, including the definition of temperature, the scales used to measure temperature and much more.
This program presents the results of flame experiments conducted with a candle.
This self-paced program explains to non-investigators the role of the fire investigator, what the fire investigator does, how the fire investigator is trained, what qualifications the fire investigator must meet.
This module will untangle the meanings of "undetermined," straighten out how to use the term correctly, talk about how not to use it, and describe how to properly report fires where "undetermined" is the cause or classification.
This module will advise fire investigators on how to approach the fact-finding procedures necessary and validate a hypothesis.
This module provides an overview on how structures can become vacant and eventually abandoned.
This self-paced program provides a basic framework for structuring the management of fire cases and fire investigators.
This module illustrates how wildland fires spread, explains how to interpret burn patterns unique to these types of fires.
This module presents the key elements of the initial origin and cause report and methods of clearly presenting findings in a professional manner.