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.
ROD AMMON: Welcome to this podcast for CFITrainer.Net. We hope you’re all doing well out there with your investigations and all of your efforts to keep the public and yourselves safe from fire. On this month’s podcast, we’re talking about the Ghost Ship Fire and other past fires that remind us of the importance of fire codes. Why do we still have fires like this with such loss of life in a time where we have technology and knowledge that can stop them? Today, we’re talking to Patrick Wills who was a fire captain and fire investigation for the city of Long Beach, California. He does presentations around the country about fire code, and specifically he has talked to the IAAI membership about the Paradise Gardens Fire and what can be learned. Captain Wills was a teenage fire explorer in 1971 and was doing fire inspections at 16 years old. Pat has 38 years in the fire service and spent his last 17 years as a full-time supervisor of the arson unit in Long Beach, California. During that time, Pat carried a full caseload. Welcome to the podcast, Pat.
PATRICK WILLS: Hello sir, glad to be with you.
ROD AMMON: It’s – we very much appreciate your time. When you and I spoke, you spoke very highly of the team you had in Long Beach. Why don’t you start off by telling us what you felt was the great part, the shining light about the group that you worked with?
PATRICK WILLS: Well, I had a team of investigators that included a special agent from the Los Angeles field office of ATF. He was actually stationed in-house with us. I had a full-time detective from the Long Beach Police Department, and I had firefighter investigators from the ranks of the Long Beach Fire Department, but also most important was that the fire administration from all the fire chiefs that I worked with and certainly knew throughout my career all supported the investigations unit and tried to maintain an adequate staffing level certainly from the time I took over in 1998 through my time, through 2014 when I retired. So the support from the administration to the fire investigation unit is super important. I always believed that the firefighter investigators, the police officers, the special agents, they’re always going to do the best job they can. That support though really enhances the work environment and is vitally important to getting investigations completed in a timely manner and having the resources to do so.
ROD AMMON: I appreciate you sharing, and I know people out there appreciate you speaking about your history with Long Beach. I think one of the strengths of what we do here on the podcast is sharing different stories around the country, and a lot of people will say to us, tell us about other departments. Tell us case studies or highlights of different investigations, so appreciate that background. Did you have involvement in the Ghost Ship Fire investigation?
PATRICK WILLS: I did not.
ROD AMMON: Okay, so I wanted to get that out real – right up front, but you’ve got a – sort of a front row seat, and I wanted you to tell us sort of what you’ve learned about what happened and what was the cause, and then we’ll go from there.
PATRICK WILLS: Well, what I know of the Ghost Ship fire really is going to be limited to what I’ve read in the media from Firehouse Magazine through the news broadcasts and the articles that I’ve read in the paper. So in terms of any personal involvement, I don’t have that, and as far as I know, the cause of the fire has still been listed as undetermined. I know for a while there, they had it narrowed down to possibly a refrigerator because there were people living there, but as of today, I don’t know that they have established a cause that they’re willing to share with the public.
ROD AMMON: I appreciate that, and one of the reasons I bring it up right away is because one of the things we try to do at the podcast is make sure that we’re being careful of the things that are going on out there and supporting the investigators and all the folks around them that are dealing with a case that’s obviously still active. So we’re going to sort of talk about what we know and we think we can learn from that. Tell me about what you think related – happened related to code enforcement with that fire.
PATRICK WILLS: Well, from what I know is that there was an occupancy, which was the Ghost Ship building, which was originally intended to be a warehouse that had over the years been converted without the inspection process or the permitting process into a living space. Once that conversion takes place in a normal code environment – in a normal code enforcement environment, that would trigger a change of occupancy, which would then trigger the permitting process, the review process, and the inspection process. As far as I can tell from what I know about the case today is that those processes that are there to safeguard the public all kind of fell by the wayside, so therefore, the building was taken from its original intended occupancy as a warehouse and converted unlawfully into a living space. And unfortunately in December, what was the worst thing that could happen, a fire breaks out, and 36 people ended up dying. So in my opinion, certainly along with my partner, Robert Rowe, who I teach with throughout the United States, the permitting process and the inspection process, which is really there to safeguard the public, those safeguards all fell down, and they were kind of subverted, and therefore, this loss of life occurred, which to me was very preventable.
ROD AMMON: And we’ve spoken about the fact that everyone involved with this, people who enforce code, all kinds of folks that are around this fire, are good people who are trying to do the right thing who are also very often empathetic to people’s living situations, and they’re dealing with budgets. They’re dealing with large growth in cities, so our goal here was to just take a look at the issue, and I know that you wanted to make that clear. So pretty much you feel like, from an objective view, if there had been code enforcement, we could have avoided this loss of life. Is that pretty clear?
PATRICK WILLS: I think that’s very safe to say. The code, whether it be the building code for the build environment or the fire code for the maintenance environment, those are put into place by the lawmakers to safeguard the public, and once the public goes around those provisions, which are often behind the backs of the fire department and the building officials, these problems can pop up. That’s where – and in the housing environment that we have in the United States of America, we have a tremendous shorting of houses.
We have an increase in the homeless population, so the housing premiums become extremely important, and municipal fire departments or county fire departments with budget cuts, with decreased staffing, they have a lot of work on their hands to try to keep up and just maintain their inspection caseload when the reality of those type of fire departments is that the calls for service through the dispatch center, they are really the ones that take the priority, so you see a big shift in staffing to just handle the caseload of just throughout the dispatch center and the firefighters and the fire stations to take on their own calls. The fire prevention duties or the inspection duties sometimes take a backseat due to call volume and overload of call volume, so it’s a very difficult problem to address, but it’s something that, in reality, based on the Ghost Ship Fire or other fires such as the Station Fire, really need to become priorities in fire departments. And this certainly – 10 years after the Station Fire, it happened again in modern times, so now we’re kind of back to how do we tackle this problem?
ROD AMMON: It’s a tough issue, and it’s tough to talk about and we appreciate you sharing your expertise. I mean this also follows up with education that you’ve been providing around the country. You were talking about the Paradise Garden Fire – the Gardens Fire. You want to talk briefly about that?
PATRICK WILLS: Sure. The Paradise Gardens Fire was a major fire that occurred in Long Beach in December of 2006, and essentially it was a very large, occupied apartment house that, at the time of the fire, had multiple fire code violations existing within the building. A large problem within that structure was that multiple fire doors had been removed or were blocked open when the fire began, and as a result, the fire spread from the first floor to the third floor, unfortunately taking the lives of two people on the third floor, which was remote from the area of origin, and they were found deceased in the hallway by the firefighters. So there were a multitude of fire code violations existing at the time of the fire, and incorporating the inspectors, the fire inspectors and the building officials into the fire investigation process really revealed the speed and spread of the fire and how that contributed to the loss of life and also how it would have contributed to the prevention of the loss of life had all of those code requirements been in place at the time the fire broke out. So there was a twofold factor; one was the safety of the public, and then the second one was how the actual safety of the occupants there really was in jeopardy because of the existing violations.
ROD AMMON: And not to mention the safety of the firefighters who have to respond.
PATRICK WILLS: Absolutely. You’re absolutely correct.
ROD AMMON: You were also involved in another investigation. I think it had to do with the Aviles sisters.
PATRICK WILLS: The Aviles sisters – Jasmine, Stephanie, and Jocelyn Aviles – were three little girls who, in December of 2007, went to their aunt’s house in Central Long Beach, and they were going to go there to spend the night with their aunt, a 17-year-old, very responsible girl. The problem of the location where they were going was that location was an illegally converted garage that the owner converted into a living space. Once again, the permitting process, the inspection process was subverted, so therefore, there was no heat. There was substandard electrical. There was no smoke detectors. Because the girls knew that the location had no heat, they brought with them this little small heater, this electric heater, which ended up causing the fire and ended up taking their lives.
So once again, with the lack of proper housing throughout the United States, in Long Beach we discovered this incredible population of people that lived in these very unsafe locations that were illegally converted garages. And we found that in the three years after the fire, there were nearly 600 garages that we had identified in the city of Long Beach, and the city had actually opened code enforcement cases against the owners so you had this huge upswing in our knowledge of these very unsafe locations, and now we had a big enforcement issue on our hands, but that enforcement issue, to the credit of the city of Long Beach, the fire department, the building department, they really took ownership in going after and making the owners comply. I believe that all agencies throughout the United States would want to do the same thing, but they may not have the resources to do so, so in Los Angeles County, there was still a continuous loss of life up through and continuing through probably last year.
I think was the – there was a person killed in a garage fire, illegally converted garage, just recently in the Los Angeles County, South Central Los Angeles area, once again, an illegal conversion. But the density of property is so great in the major metropolitan areas of the United States. Resources are lacking, inspection issues. There’s a housing crisis, and these things are going to continue. What we did in the city of Long Beach was incorporating – in my investigation, incorporating the building code and the fire code into the inspection process – or the investigation process, we could clearly see that the safeguards of the fire code and the building code were not followed, which led to the deaths of these children in this location. And the bottom line for the location was very simple. They should never have been in there to begin with in the first place.
Had the fire broken out after the inspection process took place, the permitting process, then whatever happens, happens because the provisions of the building code and the fire code would have been followed, and accidental fires break out all over the United States, but in this case, because that code process was broken down, they were at risk from the moment they went into the location. It was that simple, and that substandard housing and lack of proper fire protection code requirements, building protection code requirements is just pervasive throughout the United States, especially in the inner cities.
ROD AMMON: So, Pat, after the Aviles Fire, which I know was hard for you, there were some changes in law. Can you tell us about that?
PATRICK WILLS: Yes, sir, and to the credit of the city of Long Beach, in 2010, I did a presentation on the Aviles case, which actually happened to be on the third anniversary of the fire, and what the city of Long Beach did, they took all of the garage – the laws that were related to illegal garages, and they named those laws the Aviles Laws. Essentially, for any property owner who would be tagged or cited for having an illegal garage conversion, if they were to ask what the big deal was, the city of Long Beach could use the name of the Aviles Laws to say the Aviles sisters are the face and the reason this law exists today, the name of these laws exist. It gives them a reference of what can happen when the fire code or the building code is not complied with.
And we went to the state capital in 2011, California state capital, and under Assembly Concurring Resolution 32, the state of California sent a notice out to every municipality in California to encourage them to name their garage laws for illegal garages as the Aviles Laws so that every municipality in the state of California would have that reference of why that law was important so if any property owner ever asked what’s the big deal, it’s the Aviles sisters that got all of this going in 2007, and that’s why it was important. It’s much like Megan’s Law, although Megan’s Law is an actual law with a codified enforcement action. The Aviles Laws just gives the name and an incident to the laws that are existing on the books today. It doesn’t enhance anything. It gives each municipality an incident and a reason why these laws are important, so that’s really how that came about.
ROD AMMON: Appreciate you telling us this story, and I guess it’s another example of some good coming out of tragedy.
PATRICK WILLS: Yes, and although we’ve been lucky with the city of Long Beach, the state of California, my goal is to take it to Washington, D.C. and certainly any municipality in the United States, certainly any fire investigator or any member of IAAI that listens to this podcast could actually take the name of the Aviles Law and apply it to their own jurisdiction whether it be in Newark, New Jersey or in Cody, Wyoming. They have existing laws on the books. They could name those laws the Aviles Laws, and give the same reason to the property owner there of why the enforcement action against them is being done, and it’s because of this incident.
ROD AMMON: With any change, it’s good to have a story.
PATRICK WILLS: Well, this story is – it’s going to be the 10th anniversary this December, and as a result, through my coworkers in Long Beach, my deputy chief, my fire chief, and certainly all of the city government, there has been a lot of changes made and a lot more lives saved as a result of that incident. As tragic as it is, it really brought it to the forefront, and to the city of Long Beach’s credit, they went after property owners with these illegal garages, and they still do it to this day. So we’ve prevented a larger loss of life as a result of that tragedy.
ROD AMMON: Hearing these stories is brutal, and I think as fire investigators and as a firefighter or firefighter – fire service leadership, law enforcement, all these folks, I can’t imagine how tough it is to go to these fires and to investigate them and with all of that motivation, it still seems like it’s incredibly difficult to create change. So our goal is how do we bring light and learn from your experience and the experience of others? Tell us what you think the right way to make things happen – what’s the right way to make things happen? We’re talking to fire investigators, and a lot of people around the fire investigation industry, and some of those folks are handling code. I mean some of them are doing inspections. They’re doing double duty. Can you tell us what you think is the right way to create a change to reduce the number of these fires?
PATRICK WILLS: Well, it probably would be a twofold process. One, the fire chiefs and the building officials have to prioritize the inspection process. Now, for the fire departments, that can be very difficult running a large call volume of medical calls, structure fires, and I’m lucky enough to say that in the 38 years I was on the fire department, I also spent some time in the early ‘70s as a fire explorer in Orange County, California. I was there when the book, “America Burning” hit the table. I saw it firsthand. That fire problem does not exist today, but the fire prevention section of “America Burning” needs to be enhanced. They – we need to prioritize the fire inspectors’ duties and the building inspectors’ duties. They need to be there and doing their inspections on a daily basis with the proper enforcement action. The fire investigators, when they have any fire that involves a structure where someone is hurt or killed, needs to incorporate the fire prevention inspectors and building inspectors into their investigation.
If you simply go back to NFPA 921 chapter 21, analyzing the incident for cause and responsibility, it points out in both sections – there’s two sections within there – and it points out the need to incorporate the fire code investigation and the building code investigation. Bring those inspectors into your investigation, and if you find that a violation of the building code or the fire code had occurred, you must write that up in your report, and you must ask for action by your officials because that’s the way we’re going to be able to reduce the number of deaths in the United States. They’ve been reduced 50% since I was in the fire service starting in 1971, maybe even up to 60%, but once again, in 2000, we had the Station Fire where 100 people died. In 2016, 36 people died in a warehouse in Oakland, California. That’s a very amazing – those are two amazing facts that, modern times, this happened in.
The city of Long Beach, for me the Aviles sisters was my Ghost Ship or the Ghost Ship of our fire department. We don’t want to repeat that, so for the fire inspectors, I say as soon as you go to an investigation that has a death or a serious injury, get your inspectors involved. If they don’t find a violation, that’s great, but if there is a violation, then find out how that violation could have been taken care of in advance, and if there’s an enforcement action that needs to be done, submit it for enforcement action. Submit it for review by a legal authority whether it be your city prosecutor, county council, or your district attorney. That’s the only way we’re going to get these issues solved.
ROD AMMON: I’ve heard you make another point, and that was almost more proactive than calling somebody in after an investigation. You were talking about – I think the discussion was what can investigators do? What can other law enforcement do? What can task forces do in areas where these issues are, where they’re happening? Can you speak to that a bit? And I think it had to do with what do I do if I see something?
PATRICK WILLS: Sure. Public education will always enhance how we find these locations. Now, there’s a double-edged sword with this. The old adage by Homeland Security, you see something, say something, well, if you have that family living in that illegally converted garage, now what do you do? What do you do with that family? This is a very unique double-edged sword, which each municipality has to cover on their own, but the bottom line is we also have to hold property owners responsible for not following the proper procedures. Providing unsafe housing just cannot exist. It does, but if we as firefighters, police officers, or citizens see something that looks to be illegal, somebody needs to say something, and it needs to go out and be investigated.
The critical part comes when you see something and now you have, like I say, this family that is living in this garage who has no money or they have – they don’t have the funding to go and get something that maybe it’s going to be an apartment that was built with the code compliance in mind. Now what do you do with them? The city of Long Beach came up with a pretty novel concept, is that if the property owner was renting to someone other than a relative, they would be responsible for relocating those people at their own expense. Now, that’s a pretty good concept as long as that property owner has the money to do so, and that municipality is willing to enforce it, but I think when you see something that is unsafe, call it out. Don’t let it go.
ROD AMMON: I’ve heard you say that clearly, and I thought it was worth repeating. You know, I’m hoping our conversation today has sparked some people to change the way they look at some of these things and deal with some of these difficult issues, and I think – I just keep thinking how difficult it is for people to say something when they’re thinking about this is where somebody lives or this is where somebody lives because it’s the last couple of places in a major city where they might be able to afford to stay. But ultimately, as you’ve told us, we may be putting them in a place that could cost them their lives by allowing them to stay there. So any other thoughts that you have before we wrap up for today?
PATRICK WILLS: Well, I think what you just said kind of rings – this is the way I look at it is everybody wants to provide that – a city government wants to be able to provide for all of their people to live in these – in locations where they have a roof over their head, and sometimes – sometimes – the process or the enforcement action gets broken down, and in reality, the risk to the public is much greater than a reason for letting people stay in these locations. As I’ve said in my presentations along with my partner, Robert Rowe, who was a code expert, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if somebody stays there? A fire breaks out and kills 36 people.
Well, that’s exactly what happened, so when we stay on top of this problem, I think that it can only make it better for the citizens that we serve. How’s that?
ROD AMMON: I think that’s pretty good, and it’s a nice way to wrap up, and we’re very grateful for your time on the podcast here at CFITrainer.Net. Again, that’s Pat Wills, and he’s with us today to help us out, appreciate your time.
PATRICK WILLS: Thank you very much, sir, and look forward to talking to you soon.
ROD AMMON: Okay, and that wraps up our podcast for CFITrainer. I want to say thank you again to Captain Pat Wills, retired Captain Pat Wills, who gave us his expertise and shared his time with us today. Also, around the IAAI, it’s good for you to know that you can still go over to firearson.com – www.firearson.com. Take a look at the website there for the International Association of Arson Investigators, and you can find out about training that’s going on and things that would affect you whether you’re a member or not. And of course we hope that all of you will come and take another module with us here at CFITrainer.Net.
We can tell that hundreds of you – I think 3, 4, 500 of you have already completed the first module of the motor vehicles class, and I should – I say that – well, let me give you a little bit of background. There’s two modules that are being done, one that is up, which is Motor Vehicles 1, and that talks about specific systems inside of a motor vehicle, and then there’s Motor Vehicles 2, which is the second module, and that is going to be coming out I guess around May 15. Those two modules are going to be a prerequisite for a course that’s being developed for the International Association of Arson Investigators to be delivered around the country related to motor vehicle investigation. And when that actually gets cut loose, we’ll let you all know via the Internet, via this podcast, and probably – well, I guess the Internet in general, but from the website, from email, and from this podcast. For all of us again at the International Association of Arson Investigators, from CFITrainer.Net, thanks for your time. Be well. I’m Rod Ammon.
This program provides a primer on accreditation, certification, and certificates for fire investigation training.
A fire occurred on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, in The Station nightclub at 211 Cowesett Avenue, West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Arc Mapping, or Arc Fault Circuit Analysis, uses the electrical system to help reconstruct a scene, providing investigators with a means of determining the area of a fire’s origin.
This module introduces basic electrical concepts, including: terminology, atomic theory and electricity, Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law, AC and DC power.
A fire occurred on the evening of June 18, 2007, in the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, SC that resulted in the deaths of nine fire fighters.
This module looks at the many ways fire investigators enter and grow in the profession through academia, the fire service, law enforcement, insurance, and engineering.
This module will present a description of the IAAI organization.
This module takes a closer look at four of the most commonly-reported accidental fire causes according to "NFPA Fact Sheet.
This program brings three highly experienced fire investigators and an attorney with experience as a prosecutor and civil litigator together for a round table discussion.
The program discusses the basics of digital photography for fire investigators as well as software and editing procedures for digital images intended as evidence.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in civil proceedings such as fire loss claims and product defect lawsuits.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in criminal proceedings.
This module covers the foundation of DNA evidence: defining, recognizing, collecting, and testing.
This program provides a practical overview of how to perform the baseline documentation tasks that occur at every scene.
This module will discuss the techniques and strategies for conducting a proper science-based fire scene investigation and effectively presenting an investigator’s findings in court as an expert witness.
This module presents critical electrical safety practices that every fire investigator should implement at every scene, every time.
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 teaches first responders, including fire, police and EMS, how to make critical observations.
This program discusses how to access insurance information, understand insurance documents, ask key questions of witnesses, and apply the information learned.
This module offers a basic introduction about how some selected major appliances operate.
This program introduces the fire investigator to the issues related to the collection, handling and use of evidence related to a fire investigation.
This program takes you inside the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) archives of some of the most interesting and instructive test burns and fire model simulations they have ever conducted.
The program provides foundational background on the scope of the youth-set fire problem, the importance of rigorous fire investigation in addressing this problem, and the role of key agencies in the response to a youth-set fire.
This module provides a thorough understanding of the ways an investigation changes when a fire-related death occurs.
This self-paced program will help you understand what to expect at a fire where an LODD has occurred, what your role is, how to interact with others, and how to handle special circumstances at the scene.
This program will introduce the fire investigator to the basic methodologies use to investigate vehicle fires.
This module presents the role natural gas can play in fire ignition, fuel load, and spread; the elements of investigating a fire in a residence where natural gas is present; and the potential role the gas utility or the municipality can play an investigation.
This self-paced program covers fundamental legal aspects of investigating youth-set fires, including the juvenile justice system, legalities of interviews and interrogations, arson statutes, search and seizure, and confidentiality.
This program discusses the latest developments in expert testimony under the Daubert standard, including the MagneTek case recently decided in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
This module focuses on how to manage investigations that have “complicating” factors.
This module uses the Motive, Means, and Opportunity case study to demonstrate how responsibility is determined in an arson case.
This program covers the general anatomy of a motor vehicle and a description of typical components of the engine, electrical, ignition, and fuel systems.
This self-paced program is the second part of a two-part basic introduction to motor vehicle systems. This program describes the function and major components of the transmission, exhaust, brake, and accessory systems.
This module educates the investigator about NFPA 1033’s importance, its requirements, and how those requirements impact the fire investigator’s professional development.
This module reviews the major changes included in the documents including the use of color photos in NFPA 921 and additional material that supports the expanded required knowledge list in NFPA 1033 Section 1.3.7.
The program illustrates for the fire investigator, how non-traditional fire scene evidence can be helpful during an investigation.
This module introduces the postflashover topic, describes ventilation-controlled fire flow, illustrates how the damage left by a postflashover can be significantly different than if that fire was extinguished preflashover.
This module lays the groundwork for understanding marine fires by covering four basic concepts that the investigator must understand before investigating a marine fire.
In this module, you will learn more about how cancer develops, what occupational exposure risks to carcinogens exist at fire scenes, and how to better protect yourself against those exposures.
The use of the process of elimination in the determination of a fire cause is a topic that has generated significant discussion and controversy in the fire investigation profession.
This module teaches the basics of the electrical power generation, distribution, and transmission system.
This module presents the basics of natural gas and its uses and system components in a residence.
This module explains the principles of search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as contained in the amendment and according to subsequent case law, and applies them to typical fire scene scenarios.
One of the legal proceedings that may require the fire investigator to testify is a deposition. Depositions are often related to civil proceedings, but more and more jurisdictions are using them in criminal cases.
Deposing attorneys employ a variety of tactics to learn about the expert witness giving testimony, to try to unsettle that witness to see how he/she handles such pressure, and to probe for weaknesses to exploit.
This module provides introductory information on the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard – 29 CFR 1910.120.
The program examines the importance of assessing the impact of ventilation on a fire.
This module demonstrates the investigative potential of information stored on electronic devices.
This module explains the relationship between NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921
The basics of the scientific method are deceptively simple: observe, hypothesize, test, and conclude.
This module addresses the foundations of thermometry, including the definition of temperature, the scales used to measure temperature and much more.
This program presents the results of flame experiments conducted with a candle.
This self-paced program explains to non-investigators the role of the fire investigator, what the fire investigator does, how the fire investigator is trained, what qualifications the fire investigator must meet.
This module will untangle the meanings of "undetermined," straighten out how to use the term correctly, talk about how not to use it, and describe how to properly report fires where "undetermined" is the cause or classification.
This module will advise fire investigators on how to approach the fact-finding procedures necessary and validate a hypothesis.
This module provides an overview on how structures can become vacant and eventually abandoned.
This self-paced program provides a basic framework for structuring the management of fire cases and fire investigators.
This module illustrates how wildland fires spread, explains how to interpret burn patterns unique to these types of fires.
This module presents the key elements of the initial origin and cause report and methods of clearly presenting findings in a professional manner.