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
June 2020 Podcast - June '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month's podcast we interview Doug Byron, President and Senior Forensic Chemist from the FAST lab about fats and oils and spontaneous combustion, and how they are involved in fire investigation. After our interview with Doug, we offer some thoughts on your job and the COVID-19 situation.
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.
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. As everyone is now aware, the news cycle is moving very fast and of course dominated by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Just a quick reminder at the start of our podcast that all fire investigation professionals should conduct scene safety assessments at every scene and select PP according to identified hazards at that scene. Coronavirus transmission precautions should now be part of your scene investigation protocol. Respiratory protection and cleanliness have probably never been more top of mind, so please take care of your own safety as you serve the public interest or fulfill your client's mandate. There's a Covid virus resource dashboard available from the International Association of Fire Chiefs. I checked it out this morning and there's plenty of resources to assist you there. There's also daily updates related to fire departments across the country. Again, that's at www.iafc.org/.

We appreciate the service that all of our responders, healthcare workers and others are providing us with our daily safety and essentials. I saw the FedEx driver in my neighbor's driveway yesterday and said, we appreciate what you guys are doing. He stopped and said, I never really appreciated what people think or how they rely on us sometimes, it feels good. When we have our editorial meetings to decide what to discuss on this podcast. We often look to recent news stories for emerging topics in fire investigation. We had intended to make this podcast one of our news roundups where we amplify a variety of stories that may be of interest to fire investigation professionals. This month while researching stories, one topic caught our eye amidst all the Corona news. Fires at sober living facilities. It feels both timely and a bit late since the opioid crisis and the resulting proliferation of addiction treatment resources has been an ongoing issue for two decades and intensified in the last five years.

Sober living houses trace their roots back to the 1930s, so it's not that it's a new idea, but the growing popularity of sober living run by addiction recovery peers, the presence of these homes in otherwise single or multifamily residential communities, the uneven nature of licensing and regulation and informal sober living arrangements between friends in recovery is creating fire protection, firefighting and fire investigation issues that we thought merited some specific attention. So here we are.

Some quick Googling turns up a variety of fire incidents in sober living facilities. Here are a few examples. A member of a sober living house in Northern California who had recently moved out was arrested for reckless arson for causing a fire at the home. The home was left uninhabitable. Sober living homes in South Portland, Maine, Patterson, New Jersey, and Lansing, Michigan had been damaged by electrical fires, all displacing residents. Three female residents of a sober living home in Nashville died in a massive fire in 2018. The fire remains under investigation.

The fire department says no working smoke alarms were in the home. There are a lot of issues raised here, including regulation by States and municipalities, code application and enforcement, unregistered and unlicensed or informal facilities, fire safety and nonstandard occupancies of single family residences. Then if a fire incident occurs, there will be unique fire investigation challenges like interviewing persons who may not have permanent contact information, possible electrical system over burdens or jury rigging, a potentially transient population, increasing the witness list, lack of inspection records, if the sober living house was not registered or did not have to be registered and the possibility of having to investigate multiple potential fire causes arising from an occupancy of adults in dormitory style bedrooms with shared common areas such as cooking or heating equipment in rooms and smoking in multiple bedrooms or rooms like basements and closets illegally converted into bedrooms.

Here to talk with us about some of the issues with fires in sober living homes, is Fire Marshal Peter Lennon an IAAI member and fire marshal from Manchester, New Hampshire, where Chief Dan Gounan has been working on this issue. Thanks for being with us today.

Peter Lennon: Thanks for having me.

Rod Ammon: I appreciate it. Peter, how are you and your people doing with this Covid thing?

Peter Lennon: We're doing good. We're still ramping up here in the city, but we're doing good. So far we're running a lot of testing sites and just maintaining what we have.

Rod Ammon: Well wanted to make sure we checked in on that and we're glad to hear that for you. I know a lot of cities, it's just about the timing and preparedness and we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today.

Peter Lennon: No problem.

Rod Ammon: So let's start out when we're talking about these sober living arrangements, just to get an idea of what's out there. From what I understand that facilities range from hundreds of residents to small groups. What are you seeing out there?

Peter Lennon: The biggest thing we're seeing is we're seeing these sober living places that are popping up in more of a residential setting that we don't anticipate them being at. So meaning that we're coming up to an apartment building that usually has like three apartment buildings in it and they've illegally converted the apartment or the apartment building into essentially one dwelling unit with anywhere from 20 to 30 people inside the building at one time.

Rod Ammon: And what was the capacity at the time?

Peter Lennon: Usually, most of the apartment buildings only probably have like a small family of four or five people in at the max, but we're actually seeing these apartments that have seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven people in it. It's very common for these places to just put lots of people into a residential space.

Rod Ammon: Wow. I'm glad I clarified that because when I said at the time I wasn't too clear, what I meant was, what's the typical standard appropriate occupancy and what you're saying is it's going from two, three, four people, which would be normal, what these places are developed for up to 10 or more.

Peter Lennon: Correct. We're seeing some apartments that actually have over 10 people in them. Basically any place they have a room that they're putting beds down and having people stay in there.

Rod Ammon: So I'm sure that a lot of people who listen to us already know what some of those issues, what that would lead to. Why don't you talk a little bit about the regulatory fire protection and code enforcement issues?

Peter Lennon: Yeah, so the code part of it that we're running into is basically they're just popping up. They're not letting the city know they're there, they're not going through any of the permitting process. And they're basically just out there and looking for us to kind of find them. The big thing we're really running into is no code really will define the definition of family. There's some definitions out there, but that's our biggest hurdle right now is that they're calling themselves a family. And so sober living really doesn't fit, in New Hampshire we enforce the life safety codes from NFPA. Sober living really doesn't fit in the categories, so we're using the dormitory rooming lodging chapter, which actually requires sprinklers and fire alarm systems because it's a new occupancy. And that's the big stumbling block is these occupancies don't want to spend the money to put those life safety features in to make the building safe and code compliant.

Peter Lennon: So we've been working with the state trying to get either variances for these properties or maybe come up with a additional classification of sober living. But essentially the risk with that is we're essentially lessening the safety requirements. So that's a big thing that's going on right now with us as far as the code part of it.

Rod Ammon: As I can imagine, this is a state by state issue.

Peter Lennon: Yeah. Unfortunately, there's a lot of big companies that run these places and they have a lot of money and they're fighting us all along the way with any enforcement that we try to do. And it's getting tied up in the courts.

Rod Ammon: As I've heard, or I've read, I should say from Chief Gounan's comments, it's not that you want to shut these people down, you just want to make sure they're safe.

Peter Lennon: Absolutely. And we want to make sure that they're safe. We want to make sure we know where they're out there. A typical response for us for a residential unit is only an engine in a lot of company versus if we know there's going to be multiple people in there, we'll increase the response. Just to be safe, time is very important. Trying to get the people out of the building. So that's one of our big stumbling blocks is just knowing they're out there and just adjusting appropriately for us as far as responses.

Rod Ammon: So what I've heard is, you've got a couple ideas out there that looked pretty unique from what we read. Could you talk about that? Because again, my understanding was you were looking for cooperation, not to put people in need out of a place.

Peter Lennon: Oh, absolutely. I mean we are pretty much ground zero for the opioid crisis and we understand the recovery part of it is very important, and we're not trying to close these places down, but we want to make sure that they're safe. Everybody should be in a safe building, especially people in recovery. So we're working on compartmentation fire alarm systems. Some not really alternatives but some other measures that we can at least get in there at least to make the building safe. But we are not at all looking to close these places down. But with that said, there are some good ones. There are some bad ones and we do have some enforcement stuff against some of the bad ones that we have to move forward on.

Rod Ammon: Sure. As with any business. So what are the challenges, you spoke a little bit about apartments and I'm sorry if I missed you speaking about single family homes, because I'm thinking a little bit here. What are the specific challenges in single family homes? What are you seeing in terms of occupancy, usage, utilities, that kind of thing? Housekeeping?

Peter Lennon: It's the same thing. We're getting complaint calls from neighborhoods that single family home, house went on the market, somebody buys it up, pays cash, and next you know that there's people outside all hours of the day and there's multiple tenants there that usually is not indicative of a single family setting. So the single family are usually the ones that get reported to us quicker than an apartment building. Because usually apartment buildings, the people are kind of always out and about and stuff, but it's not fitting some of these neighborhoods and that's what's drawing our attention to it, not just the code part of it.

Rod Ammon: So how about advice for other people who aren't at ground zero that are maybe seeing a little bit of this? My understanding is you have quite a few of these places that have sprung up. Any advice that you could share to others around the country?

Peter Lennon: The big thing I would do is just get to know everybody in your community as far as the other departments, whether the police are noticing calls for service, complaints to the health department, you really need to work together with all the other agencies within your jurisdiction. They may have information that something's going on, but that's key is being able to share information with other resources that are in your community. Get out there and see what's going on. It's pretty easy to find these places if you start doing Google searches, you can find pretty much any of these places, especially addresses. And a lot of these places have Facebook, there's a lot of Facebook stuff out there for recovery places. You can find a lot of the information. Another good resources, probation and parole for us, they're actually putting people in there. So they're a great resource as well. So just reaching out to the stakeholders and see where they're putting these people.

Rod Ammon: As with so many other issues. And again, I keep hearing in the background of a lot of the things that you've said in it and what I read about the chief that you're trying to do the right thing here to make people safe and help them out during some incredible challenges in their lives. When you have to investigate a fire at one of these places, what are some of the unique challenges that you might face?

Peter Lennon: We have had a couple of fires in these places. We probably guesstimate, we have about 60 of them out there. We know of about 40 of them, but we're being told specifically that some of them are underground purposely just to avoid us. But the incidents we've experienced is, usually everything has been accidental. Smoking is a big part of the recovery process and that's what's been pretty much the driving factor as far as fires relating these places is smoking, careless disposal smoking. We've also had a couple of incidents with people that were placed there that shouldn't have been there, that should have been supervised having small kitchen fires. But everything we've experienced has been accidental in cause.

Rod Ammon: What am I missing?

Peter Lennon: I don't think anything.

Rod Ammon: That's awful nice. Frankly this subject came out of nowhere. We started doing some reading and as I said in the stories previous as I was reading the intro for this, this sort of came up and we hadn't really thought of it and I hadn't even thought about what a sober living home was. And then I thought, well maybe halfway house was the old terminology.

Peter Lennon: Halfway houses are more for your people that are coming out of your prisons and stuff like that. But they're still, our probation and parole will place people in sober living that is essentially coming out of some type of substance abuse program or drug court or something along those lines. They'll place them in there. Big thing, and there's a big case right now that somebody that probation parole placed actually went missing. They went on a crime spree, so that really brought a lot of this to the forefront as well, as far as these people being in neighborhoods where they're not supposed to be.

Rod Ammon: Okay. Well I'm very grateful for your time. All of us are and that's Fire Marshal Peter Lennon.

Peter Lennon: Thanks for having me. It was great to talk to everybody.

Rod Ammon: Thanks for helping us understand this issue better. We encourage the fire investigation professionals listening to this podcast to educate themselves on the sober living and other group homes in their community and the applicable state and local regulations.

We will close today with some other relevant information from the IAAI. The ITC is canceled this year and the IAAI is surely saddened by this. So many people were looking forward to the gathering in Vegas. This year's ITC was tuning up to be a great conference with excellent content and record attendance was expected. We hope you're doing well during this time of isolation. It looks as though many of you are coming and learning during this time. We've had some of our highest usage analytics recently and we're glad you're here. Please spread the word. We believe this knowledge is motivating and helpful during this time. Updates on training will be posted at the IAAI's website located at www.firearson.com where there'll be information about how this year's mandatory issues related to, that are normally handled at the ITC, will be done virtually.

So things like the election for officers and the AGM will be things that you need to check in to find out how they'll be handled at www.firearson.com. Our thoughts are with all of you and your families as we each do our best during this virus.

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 from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and voluntary online donations from CFITrainer.Net users and podcast listeners.

Thanks for joining us today on the podcast. Stay safe. We'll see you next time. For the IAAI and CFITrainer.Net, I'm Rod Ammon.

Hill, Ryan. Person rescued, another person suspected of arson after Suisun City house fire. CBS Sacramento. 4 Mar 2020.

Owner of sober living home where fire killed 2 defends herself, business. WKRN.com 24 Feb 2018.

Lacy, Eric. 13 men displaced after fire damages Holden House sober living complex. 19 May 2019.

Fire breaks out at South Portland sober living home. 18 Nov 2019. WMTW.

Case, Stacey. 'You failed to protect my child': 2 years after Valentine's Day fire, moms want answers. Fox 17 Nashville 13 Feb 2020.

Alex, Patricia. 'Incredible' support continues for Paterson's Straight & Narrow six months after fire. NorthJersey.com 17 Feb 2020.

Wittman, Friedner D. , Ph.D. and Douglas Polcin, Ed.D. The Evolution of Peer Run Sober Housing as a Recovery Resource for California Communities. Int J Self Help Self Care. 2014; 8(2): 157–187.

Napoliello, Alex. This sober living home promises a safe haven. Residents say they're being exploited. NJ.com 16 Jan 2020.

McElhaney, Lisa. There are up to 60 sober living houses in Manchester, fire chief says. NADDI.org. 12 Jan 2020.