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 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast. Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Deborah Nietch, the new Executive Director of IAAI. She recently sat down with us for an interview to talk about her background, her new position with the IAAI, training and education, social networking and some initial challenges we face at the IAAI. In the future we’ll have follow up interviews with her as she travels the country reaching out to our chapters, our international network, government agencies and many American businesses on behalf of the IAAI.
Thanks for being with us Deborah, tell us a bit about your background.
DEBORAH NIETCH: Well my background is primarily in administration and marketing. For nearly 20 years I worked in the sports development industry. We worked with some of the number one companies in the entire world: MasterCard, Pennzoil, Callaway. Being able to manage those relationships, develop new relationships, and more importantly, pull relationships together were where I started learning that I had a passion and then developed some expertise with.
When you and I have spoken, you’ve been pretty psyched about your new position at the IAAI. Could you tell our listeners why you’re so excited?
DEBORAH NIETCH: I have been working in association management with Board of Directors, non-profits, membership organizations and volunteer groups for probably close to 25 years and I’ve seen a lot of tired organizations, and it is so exciting to come into an organization where the leadership, the executive team and the Board of Directors and the members that are involved in the running of the organization are excited and passionate and share the same agenda. It is so exciting because that’s not the norm. You’ve got a group of individuals that are a 110% committed, they’re professional, they are so serious about their job and having fun and they love what they’re doing. It’s - it is a blessing to come in to an organization as the new person and find these two elements. And so, when you add a great board and great leadership, a great staff and a great organization that has a wonderful purpose and a firm foundation, the possibilities are just amazing, and that’s what I’m excited about.
Q: So you’re not a fire investigation expert, but you have been heavily vetted by our board to make sure you were a good fit for the IAAI. As the new Executive Director, how does your background build on the IAAI’s strong history?
DEBORAH NIETCH: I don’t have to be a subject matter expert to be able to carry out the duties and responsibilities as determined by the President and the Board of Directors. They are the subject matter experts, they are the leaders in the first investigation industry. It’s their responsibility to know the pulse, the direction that the IAAI wants to take, and it’s my responsibility to help fulfill and carry out those duties and objectives.
Q: As fire investigators and other experts in related fields, many of our members are under the gun to learn and be able to document their expertise. You’ve been pretty pumped about T&E… Can you talk about that?
DEBORAH NIETCH: The organization’s commitment to excellence and training and education is so strong, it is so visible and on my desk I have 94 pages from a survey regarding the CFITrainer.Net and the comments are outstanding. The feedback that we’re getting from the members and from the online users of CFITrainer.Net regarding all of the IAAI training and education opportunities is a direct response to the outstanding standards that the board, the staff and the members have put in place. The first investigator is the heart and soul of the IAAI, but CFITrainer.Net is the gem of the organization, and so it’s - we have a board and we have membership that are committed to this outstanding training program, and it’s now our duty to find the funds and keep it going.
Q: Deborah, I know you have expertise and excitement around marketing and communications… we’ve talked recently about social media. Could you share with us what you’re thinking?
DEBORAH NIETCH: A lot of individuals look at social media as ah, that’s something that the young kids use and it’s a trend. Well, I don’t believe so. I believe social media is a shift in the way we communicate, and so it’s going to be exciting to be part of that learning process and help take the IAAI slowly, confidently and forward into the use of social media because that’s where we hear from our members what they’re lacking. They want to be communicated with, they want to hear from us, but email, and you know, just getting another email, another email doesn’t meet their needs where social media has that opportunity to be as involved in your daily life as the individual ones. So that’s really, really exciting.
Q: As we wrap up, can you talk briefly about some of the initial challenges that you faced at the IAAI?
DEBORAH NIETCH: Well, immediately, the IAAI has I think three major challenges that they really - they have the ability and will - we will face and meet and exceed. The first being the funding for CFITrainer.Net. This online free training website has traditionally been 100% funded through the US federal government and we’ve just recently learned that that funding has ceased for the Grant #8. So we’re actively pursuing different programs, whether or not it’s sponsor programs, partnership programs, product development, a whole variety of items to make up the deficit with this loss of funding, and so that’s going to be a real immediate challenge.
A second challenge is to increase the membership, so the IAAI has to be better in defining and explaining the benefit and the value of membership to its members and to corporate members as well as do a better job marketing and communicating with members and corporate members.
The third area that I think that we have a real challenge is to - it’s really just maintain that high standard of excellence that the IAAI has had in position for so many years.
Thanks for your time Deborah. We know you’re heading out for more travels related to the IAAI. We’ll look forward to hearing more from you soon.
That concludes this IAAI 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.