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.
Welcome to IAAI’s October 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast. What happens to a fire investigation when media scrutiny, public fear, political pressure, and the need to catch an arsonist before he strikes again come together? We’ll find out what lessons Paul Zipper of the Massachusetts State Police has learned in a long career of working high-profile fire cases. After that interview, we’ll have the results of a study on why people leave stovetop cooking unattended and how new sensors under development may improve fire research.
Most fire investigations do not take place under pressure. There is time to conduct a thorough investigation, wait for lab results, and conduct as many interviews and document examinations as necessary. However, in some situations, such as when a serial arsonist is at work, public fear, media scrutiny, demands from politicians, and the time pressure to solve the case before another fire occurs can be intense. Trying to conduct a thorough and scientifically-sound investigation under these pressures can be challenging. In January 2010, a case just like this happened when a series of more than a dozen fires in Northampton, Massachusetts left two people dead and the community petrified and demanding answers. Paul Zipper, PhD, a sergeant in the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and a member of the Northampton Arson Task Force, was part of that team that arrested a suspect and elicited his confession. This was just the latest in a number of high profile cases that Dr. Zipper has worked, beginning in 1992 with the Lawrence, Massachusetts Arson Task Force. We’re pleased to have him with us today to lend his expertise in how to handle fire investigations when the heat is on. Welcome, Dr. Zipper.
PAUL ZIPPER: Good morning. Good afternoon, actually.
Q: So tell me Paul what happens when a routine investigation suddenly becomes a high profile case? Is there a moment when it happens? What’s the switch?
PAUL ZIPPER: It’s one of these things that I thought about before we had this discussion, and it’s really things surrounding the cause of the fire or what’s going on in the neighborhood. Different speculations. It was maybe a racial thing. It was a gang thing. That speculation starts to feed the case. If there are bodies involved, if there were some deaths, that feeds the stuff. And then - and sometimes it catches you off guard. It could be a slow news day and all of a sudden, this fire that you think no one really has an interest in becomes, you know, the top story of the day. So there’s a lot of different things that will turn a fire case into something that becomes high profile.
Q: So I guess the bottom line is just be ready all the time?
PAUL ZIPPER: Yeah, you have to be ready and you have to treat even the - again, sometimes in fire investigation, we look at, oh, this is only a small fire so it doesn’t matter. Oh, wait a second. This is a big fire; this - we have to treat this differently. Really, you have to use the same systems on every case and attempt the best way you can to block out the, you know, the distractions that come along with a high profile case.
Q: So how’s the investigation of the high profile instance organized across all the agencies in jurisdictions? You know, what mechanisms are there?
PAUL ZIPPER: Once you realize you’re going down a certain path and you need to bring in extra resources, you almost - you know, instead of speeding up, you slow down, take a step back. The scene doesn’t go anywhere if you can protect the scene, and then organize and almost over organize. Bring in maybe more people than you need until you realize, okay, we’ve got this under control. We can start to scale back. But that’s really how I’ve learned to deal with these major cases that I’ve either been a lead on or just been a bit player on is to really bring in that organization and slow things down.
Q: So you started to get to it, but you’re talking about, okay, now the pressure’s on. You got some of the team in place. What are some of the changes, if any, that you make to how a fire investigation is done when that heat’s on?
PAUL ZIPPER: The major advice I could give, if you had a new guy that was listening to this and they said, I had this big case, what do I do? The real - the secret is to slow down and I’ve learned - the one thing I’ve learned about fire investigation is the scene does not go anywhere. If you protect that scene and you set up a perimeter, you have police or whoever those people are that are protecting the scene and then you say, okay, listen, we’ve got this major incident, what do we do? And that’s where instead of running in there halfcocked and shoveling things and moving things, wait a second. What do we need for resources? Someone is - you know, becomes the lead, if you will, on this investigation. The major, major ones I’ve had, I’ve had, you know, the boss steps back and does all the - deals with the media, does all the updates, you know, makes decisions and he then will assign different roles to different people. I can speak to investigations I’ve had 50 people on working simultaneously in different teams and doing different things. So it’s really, let’s slow down. Let me bring in some more bodies. Let’s call and make sure that we’ve got the okay to work after 5 o’clock tonight because this is a big one. Again, you know, if the rest of the country is in the same shape as Massachusetts financially and with public safety stuff, the funding is not there, you know, to spend willy-nilly. You really need to have a plan. Are we going to work extra? Let’s get the okay to do that. So every single investigation is different, and I think it’s slow down, understand what resources you need, get all the players to the table, make decisions as best you can. And understand there are going to be times when not everyone agrees, but someone has to be able to say, look, I hear you, but we’re going to do this. And you stick with your plan. It’s really about, you know, again, working together, organization and just taking your time. The scene doesn’t go anywhere unless you’ve got some extenuating pending collapse or whether the situation that may be - but you just take all those factors into account and do the best you can.
Q: What are some of the things that you do to secure the scene appropriately so that you can be thorough and slow down?
PAUL ZIPPER: Every single district attorney’s office has their own policy, and they’ll have their own opinions onto what is the best practice, if you will. Now I can tell you as a fire investigator in Massachusetts, if I’m in there, you know, as part of the investigation and I start finding evidence of an accelerant, I typically - and I’m on the phone with a D.A. - they’re not telling me to stop and get a search warrant. That’s part of the fire scene investigation process, typically. However, if I have maybe three dead bodies in there and I start finding this stuff, they might say, well let’s slow down. You’ve got some, you know, let’s write a warrant to, you know, to make sure that we’re doing everything by the numbers. So, you know, if that was the case, we would back out, we would ask for police or fire personnel to secure the scene, we would put up some of the crime scene tape and we would until we got the proper authorization through the courts or maybe even the owner gives us a consent form to continue on. Every D.A.’s office may be different so we make sure we’re on the phone, we ask the appropriate questions. Look, we’re out here, here’s what we have, what would you like us to do? Now they might say, hang on, we’ll send someone out there or stop everything, come in, show me some photos or e-mail me photos or whatever the case may be and then we work together. So it isn’t me out there or my people or the local fire or police who are making these decisions. It’s a joint decision. And, you know, it’s a bunch of input. Ultimately, the district attorney’s office in my state, who would have jurisdiction over prosecuting crimes, would make the call on do we need a warrant, don’t we need a warrant? How do we write the warrant? Who writes the warrant? You know, what things go in the warrant? Again, it’s a joint effort, but ultimately if there’s a body or if it’s a crime, it’s the D.A.’s office who’s making those calls and we take a second seat to what they want us to do. That’s how we do that. But, again, it’s stop, you know, stop the presses, back out, let’s get done what we need to get done. Now we certainly can continue doing our interviews, going down to City Hall and collecting assessor’s information, doing aerial photos, you know, taking pictures of the exterior. There’s a million things we can do while we’re waiting for that authorization to go further into that structure to do our scene. So that’s what’s going on.
Q: Now you’ve got this fire or maybe you’ve got a series of fires. Talk a little bit about the impact of the community, the fear, and public pressure on the investigator?
PAUL ZIPPER: Yeah. In today’s society with limited resources and with so many other things happening, community fear and public pressure is a good thing because what it does is it gets other people involved. So the woman who saw someone go into the building that she knows before the fire, may have not picked up the phone to call that arson hotline, but with all the attention, media pressure, she’s thinking, ah, you know, I think I’ll - I didn’t think that was something, but I’ll let them know that it was - I saw Flocko go in the building carrying a can or running out. The other thing is you get neighbors or community businesses want to get involved in reward programs or sponsor, you know, benefits. They’ll do things like bring food and drinks to the investigators. You’ve got the media who, you know - again, is you can’t shun the media. They’ll cover the story. They’ll keep that in the people’s minds so instead of a situation where the fire happens and no one pays attention to it and you’re out there working by yourself or with a couple of investigators, now you’ve got all this public pressure on there. The mayor is showing up. The local agencies now say, well, I better free up some extra over time money for this and you need resources? Okay. We’ll give you a couple more bodies and so community fear and public pressure is not a bad thing. When people know you’re there, you’re going to respond and they feel like they have a place to call and tell their story, they’re going to do it. Now I can tell you that there are many cases where you might get, you know, 300 crazy leads, people called up. But you may get that one needle in the haystack and you’re going this is something we got to follow up. This may be the one. So all that public pressure created people calling up. You got to look at it as a positive thing.
Q: As the fire investigator -
PAUL ZIPPER: Yup.
Q: - and I’m not even sure this question is appropriate because so many people have public information officers, how do you communicate with a community to reassure them yet maintain integrity of the investigation? Is that even part of your -
PAUL ZIPPER: Yeah, it is. Well, let me tell you this. Let’s say, for example, and this is how this would fit it. Let’s say we have a serial fire setter and we have fire one, and, again, we - sometimes we get caught up in size, you know, but let’s say that we have a small fire and I respond to that. And a local reporter comes out and, again, they’re not going to - PIO is not going to come out for that, you know, for a small fire and the local news person might ask you a question, the local, and you give them a straight answer. You know, we’re under investigation, we’re following our leads, you know, we’re doing everything we can do. In many small type, the non-high profile cases, myself, the incident commander, the local fire investigator from the local fire and police department, they are making those kind of statements because it didn’t rise to that level of that PIO. Now when you’ve got your 10th or 15th or 20th fire in the same community over a period and now other players get involved, the PIOs get involved or the spokesperson of that group and it’s really the same process. We’re doing everything we can do. We have a systematic process. We’re following our leads, but like you said, the trick is - and you hit on this in the question - is that I can’t be announcing to the media that we have a serial fire setter or that we have - someone’s pouring gasoline in the back stairwell on every fire at 3 o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday night. You can’t do that stuff because now that leakage of information affects when I talk to the guy or people down the road and they say, yeah, we went in on - you know, we would plan every Thursday night because that’s when I played bingo and I would lose. I get liquored up. I would go to these buildings and I’d pour gas in the back stairwell, I’d light it on fire. All of a sudden, his information is less relevant because it was just in the local paper that that’s what the arsonist or arsonists were doing is they would light fires with gasoline in the rear stairwell. So you can’t leak that information out. So you want to use the spotlight to get calls, to get hotline calls, to get calls to the police or fire or whoever they’re calling to get information but you can’t give up information that only the fire setter would know. In summary, you assure the people you’re doing everything you can. You can talk about, you know, we’re bringing in all these different experts, you know, we’re doing these different things. It’s still an ongoing investigation, but if you start releasing causes and origins and suspects and all that information, you know, that’s the job for the district attorney when they’ve made an arrest to announce. Or that’s the job of, you know, the fire chief to make when the time is set, but not for those investigators out there because things change and fire scenes are not always the way they seem. So that’s a long-winded answer to your question. I hope I answered it.
Q: You think there’s a serial arsonist at work -
PAUL ZIPPER: Right.
Q: - how do you handle the pressure to solve the case before another fire is set?
PAUL ZIPPER: When you have a serial arsonist, the implication is you know that - you’re conceding that you have a bunch of individual crimes, crime scenes, as opposed to accidental fires. So you can’t get discouraged by the fact you don’t identify the guy at the fire one, two, three, four, five, 15, 20, you just keep plugging along. Somewhere along the line, someone is going to pick up the phone and say, hey, this might sound really crazy, but I had this boyfriend, every time he came to my dorm in college - this is an actual case - you know, and stayed for the weekend, there’d be a fire in the dorm. And this came after a series of fire at a state college. The summer happens so we don’t have any more fires. The fall comes, this coed picks up the phone, calls us. We start looking at the sign in sheets and there’s only one name that’s signed into every single time there’s a fire. We bring the guy in, sit him down, he gave it up. So we didn’t have him for those fires when they were happening. We got him some months later. So the one thing I can tell you is the statute of limitations in Massachusetts is six years for an arson. So if you do your case, you may put it away, but somewhere along the line, you’ve got six years for someone to say, hey, look it, Johnny told me he did this fire. And that’s how you identify a suspect. It’s just working the pavement, you know, knocking on doors, making yourself available that people can call you if they have information and you just keep working the case. I mean, that’s - you can’t, you don’t solve every one, but you put yourself in the best situation to solve a case when you get the break. And what’s what you got to do is always do everything by the numbers and when you’ve exhausted all leads, you put the case in the unsolved category, if you will, and then you just hope you get a break down the road and you can now resurrect their case. You can just drop a suspect into that case because you’ve got everything else done. And that’s how I’ve learned to approach, you know, serial fire setters.
Q: As an investigator, what pressure do you put on yourself and how do you manage that pressure so that you can focus on your work?
PAUL ZIPPER: I have learned to embrace the pressure that you get from investigation. It’s very seductive when you have a high profile case. You’ve got a lot of attention. You know, it sort of gets those juices flowing. So I’ve learned to embrace the pressure. I feel it. It’s a heightened sense of sort of adrenaline going but - and I can tell you that I’ve seen a huge change in myself from when I had very little time on to today where I would, you know, I would fold to media pressure and I would think that people who were mayors and chiefs and other people knew more than I did about what was going on. And I soon found out that as a fire investigator, you’ve got some special talents that other people don’t have. And I know I solved cases, but I don’t know how to - I can’t manage cities and all that stuff, so I do know my job. I stick with that. I make sure I have the right resources available or I call the people who can give me the resources. I try to call the right people who can give me the bodies I need to get the job done. I am relentless at making up lists and making sure we get certain things accomplished that day. At the end of the day, you know, you get as much as you can done on your checklist, you realize that you have to close up shop at a certain time to get some sleep and then come back the next day. You really have to embrace the help that you get from the local fire, the local police, the auxiliary police, the ATF, you know, whatever - if the Feds can bring some assistance, the local interns, the Red Cross and you bring in all those folks, you know, my crime scene people and you come up with a game plan and say, let’s stick to it and you do everything that you can do within your power. You slow down, you don’t speed through stuff and somewhere along the line, someone’s going to say either, A), you got a suspect and you make a case or, B), you run out of things to do and you have to put it aside for the next one.
Q: I think often you got to work quickly, it seems like. How do you do that without sacrificing sound investigative work and a scientific method?
PAUL ZIPPER: Number one, if - most of the investigators that are probably going to listen this, if they’re in a small jurisdiction, or maybe they’re in a big jurisdiction, they’re working by themselves or one other person so they don’t have a ton of bodies to help them. So if you say work quickly, what you’re really meaning to me is you want to work more efficiently. And you’re going to need more people initially out there and you’ve going to have to get organized so we’re not - we don’t have four guys drinking coffee, waiting for the other guy to finish the interview. You’ve got someone who took charge, delegated and people that were delegated, went out and did their jobs. And if you have the right amount of people or the best amount of people you can get and a good organizational plan, you can get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. So it’s - you can never abandon the scientific method and if we did - and see, I want to throw this in because I think it’s important. When you’re on the stand and that’s what this is about. It’s not about the fact that you figured out the cause of the fire to me. It’s not about the fact that you arrested a guy because you can arrest pretty much anyone if you have probable cause, what it is is how many guilties you’re getting and in order to get someone found guilty in my state, it’s a 20 year felony in arson. If you kill someone in a fire, you’re talking about a murder now, so this individual who’s been accused of an arson, who gets appointed an attorney, who is no slouch and does their homework, is now purchasing NFPA921, is hiring someone who, you know, was in the field at one time and now is working on the defense side to really poke holes in your methodology. So you can’t ever sacrifice your investigative - sound, investigative principles, you can’t cut corners or instead of having a guilty, you’re going to have a not guilty and you’re going to have egg on your face. You’re going to be embarrassed. So you can never sacrifice those investigative principles that are found in 921 or the scientific method that’s part of 921, but what you need to be able to do is have the ability when the case happens or when this high profile case happens, we’re able to get resources to an area quickly, we’re able to get, you know, the appropriate resources and organize, follow a protocol, and that is the best way to efficiently work a major case, is bring in the right bodies and the right expertise and never abandon the scientific method because it’s - when you’re on the stand, they never ask you about what you did, it’s what you didn’t do that gets you. And the jury is sitting there listening to all the things that you didn’t do that they’re going to bang you up on and really challenge your credibility. So that’s the best answer I can give you with my experience on what to do.
Thank you very much, Dr. Zipper. Now, we turn to the news.
New research by NRMA Insurance has shed some light on why people leave a hot stove unattended. The research, which surveyed more than 500 households in New South Wales, Australia, found a diverse set of reasons why people walk away when cooking on the stovetop. The most common reason was to watch television, with nearly 65% of respondents admitting they did so. 50% said they left a hot stove to do some housework. Almost 50% said they go help their kids with homework. And more than 45% admitted to leaving the stove to surf the Internet. This information may be useful to fire investigators when conducting interviews. Witnesses may be reluctant to admit directly that they’ve left a hot stove unattended. Instead of asking directly if the witness walked away, investigators might find it fruitful to ask the witness if he or she engaged in any of those common activities during the time the cooking was going on.
Our second news item is about new sensors under development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. These new sensors will be able to measure velocity and temperature simultaneously, gathering more data from small-scale fire tests and paving the way for data-driven building evacuation systems. A video explaining the technology and its potential is available on the National Science Foundation’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/videosatnsf. We’ve provided a direct link to the sensors video on this podcast page.
Finally, let’s close with news from IAAI
The 73rd Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators was formally created in a ceremony held at the IAAI offices on September 30th. The Chapter is established in the Republic of Korea and two representatives of the new Chapter traveled to Washington DC to participate in the ceremony. Also in attendance were the Officers and Executive Director of IAAI. As a part of the occasion the IAAI officers and the Korean guests were welcomed to the headquarters of the ATF and were given a tour of the ATF Laboratory.
A.J. Wilson, the current Executive Director of IAAI, has announced his retirement. IAAI thanks him for his service to the organization and wishes him well. A job announcement and application instructions for the Executive Director position will be posted on firearson.com. Since all information regarding this career opportunity will be available on the web site, IAAI asks that you refrain from calling the office with inquiries.
A reminder that the IAAI offices have moved. Their new address is 2111 Baldwin Avenue, Crofton, Maryland 21114.
That concludes this CFITrainer.Net podcast. We’ll see you again next month.
This program provides a primer on accreditation, certification, and certificates for fire investigation training.
A fire occurred on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, in The Station nightclub at 211 Cowesett Avenue, West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Arc Mapping, or Arc Fault Circuit Analysis, uses the electrical system to help reconstruct a scene, providing investigators with a means of determining the area of a fire’s origin.
This module introduces basic electrical concepts, including: terminology, atomic theory and electricity, Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law, AC and DC power.
A fire occurred on the evening of June 18, 2007, in the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, SC that resulted in the deaths of nine fire fighters.
This module looks at the many ways fire investigators enter and grow in the profession through academia, the fire service, law enforcement, insurance, and engineering.
This module will present a description of the IAAI organization.
This module takes a closer look at four of the most commonly-reported accidental fire causes according to "NFPA Fact Sheet.
This program brings three highly experienced fire investigators and an attorney with experience as a prosecutor and civil litigator together for a round table discussion.
The program discusses the basics of digital photography for fire investigators as well as software and editing procedures for digital images intended as evidence.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in civil proceedings such as fire loss claims and product defect lawsuits.
This self-paced program is an introduction to discovery in criminal proceedings.
This module covers the foundation of DNA evidence: defining, recognizing, collecting, and testing.
This program provides a practical overview of how to perform the baseline documentation tasks that occur at every scene.
This module will discuss the techniques and strategies for conducting a proper science-based fire scene investigation and effectively presenting an investigator’s findings in court as an expert witness.
This module presents critical electrical safety practices that every fire investigator should implement at every scene, every time.
This self-paced program examines the fire investigator's ethical duties beyond the fire scene.
As social media has emerged as a powerful force in interpersonal communications, fire investigators are being confronted with new questions...
Should you work for a private lab as a consultant if you are on an Arson Task Force? How about accepting discounts from the local hardware store as a “thanks” for a job well done on a fire they had last year?
This module takes investigators into the forensic laboratory and shows them what happens to the different types of fire scene evidence that are typically submitted for testing.
This module teaches the foundational knowledge of explosion dynamics, which is a necessary precursor to investigating an explosion scene.
This module addresses the foundations of fire chemistry and places it within the context of fire scene investigations.
The program is designed to introduce a new Palm/Pocket PC application called CFI Calculator to users and provide examples of how it can be used by fire investigators in the field.
This module examines these concepts to help all professionals tasked with determining fire origin and cause better understand fire flow dynamics so they can apply that knowledge to both to fire investigation and to fire attack.
This module provides a road map for fire officers to integrate and navigate their fire investigation duty with all their other responsibilities and describes where to obtain specific training in fire investigation.
The evaluation of hazards and the assessment of the relative risks associated with the investigation of fires and explosions are critical factors in the management of any investigation.
This module will describe the most commonly encountered fire protection systems.
This module presents best practices in preparing for and conducting the informational interview with witnesses in the fire investigation case.
This module provides instruction on the fundamentals of residential building construction with an eye toward how building construction affects fire development.
This module teaches first responders, including fire, police and EMS, how to make critical observations.
This program discusses how to access insurance information, understand insurance documents, ask key questions of witnesses, and apply the information learned.
This module offers a basic introduction about how some selected major appliances operate.
This program introduces the fire investigator to the issues related to the collection, handling and use of evidence related to a fire investigation.
This program takes you inside the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) archives of some of the most interesting and instructive test burns and fire model simulations they have ever conducted.
The program provides foundational background on the scope of the youth-set fire problem, the importance of rigorous fire investigation in addressing this problem, and the role of key agencies in the response to a youth-set fire.
This module provides a thorough understanding of the ways an investigation changes when a fire-related death occurs.
This self-paced program will help you understand what to expect at a fire where an LODD has occurred, what your role is, how to interact with others, and how to handle special circumstances at the scene.
This program will introduce the fire investigator to the basic methodologies use to investigate vehicle fires.
This module presents the role natural gas can play in fire ignition, fuel load, and spread; the elements of investigating a fire in a residence where natural gas is present; and the potential role the gas utility or the municipality can play an investigation.
This self-paced program covers fundamental legal aspects of investigating youth-set fires, including the juvenile justice system, legalities of interviews and interrogations, arson statutes, search and seizure, and confidentiality.
This program discusses the latest developments in expert testimony under the Daubert standard, including the MagneTek case recently decided in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
This module focuses on how to manage investigations that have “complicating” factors.
This module uses the Motive, Means, and Opportunity case study to demonstrate how responsibility is determined in an arson case.
This program covers the general anatomy of a motor vehicle and a description of typical components of the engine, electrical, ignition, and fuel systems.
This self-paced program is the second part of a two-part basic introduction to motor vehicle systems. This program describes the function and major components of the transmission, exhaust, brake, and accessory systems.
This module educates the investigator about NFPA 1033’s importance, its requirements, and how those requirements impact the fire investigator’s professional development.
This module reviews the major changes included in the documents including the use of color photos in NFPA 921 and additional material that supports the expanded required knowledge list in NFPA 1033 Section 1.3.7.
The program illustrates for the fire investigator, how non-traditional fire scene evidence can be helpful during an investigation.
This module introduces the postflashover topic, describes ventilation-controlled fire flow, illustrates how the damage left by a postflashover can be significantly different than if that fire was extinguished preflashover.
This module lays the groundwork for understanding marine fires by covering four basic concepts that the investigator must understand before investigating a marine fire.
In this module, you will learn more about how cancer develops, what occupational exposure risks to carcinogens exist at fire scenes, and how to better protect yourself against those exposures.
The use of the process of elimination in the determination of a fire cause is a topic that has generated significant discussion and controversy in the fire investigation profession.
This module teaches the basics of the electrical power generation, distribution, and transmission system.
This module presents the basics of natural gas and its uses and system components in a residence.
This module explains the principles of search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as contained in the amendment and according to subsequent case law, and applies them to typical fire scene scenarios.
One of the legal proceedings that may require the fire investigator to testify is a deposition. Depositions are often related to civil proceedings, but more and more jurisdictions are using them in criminal cases.
Deposing attorneys employ a variety of tactics to learn about the expert witness giving testimony, to try to unsettle that witness to see how he/she handles such pressure, and to probe for weaknesses to exploit.
This module provides introductory information on the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard – 29 CFR 1910.120.
The program examines the importance of assessing the impact of ventilation on a fire.
This module demonstrates the investigative potential of information stored on electronic devices.
This module explains the relationship between NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921
The basics of the scientific method are deceptively simple: observe, hypothesize, test, and conclude.
This module addresses the foundations of thermometry, including the definition of temperature, the scales used to measure temperature and much more.
This program presents the results of flame experiments conducted with a candle.
This self-paced program explains to non-investigators the role of the fire investigator, what the fire investigator does, how the fire investigator is trained, what qualifications the fire investigator must meet.
This module will untangle the meanings of "undetermined," straighten out how to use the term correctly, talk about how not to use it, and describe how to properly report fires where "undetermined" is the cause or classification.
This module will advise fire investigators on how to approach the fact-finding procedures necessary and validate a hypothesis.
This module provides an overview on how structures can become vacant and eventually abandoned.
This self-paced program provides a basic framework for structuring the management of fire cases and fire investigators.
This module illustrates how wildland fires spread, explains how to interpret burn patterns unique to these types of fires.
This module presents the key elements of the initial origin and cause report and methods of clearly presenting findings in a professional manner.