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 this edition of the IAAI’s CFITrainer.Net podcast. Today, we’re hopping around the nation a bit to bring you some interesting stories making news that are related to fire investigation.
ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa Bay has done investigative reporting to uncover a rash of spontaneous car fires involving Kia model vehicles, speaking to almost a dozen local owners about fires in their Kias. The station reports that hundreds of drivers nationwide have filed similar reports, the majority of which involve 2011 to 2014 Kia Optimas, some of which were under recall for a separate engine-related issue. WESH 2 News in Orlando did a similar investigation and found that both Kia and Hyundai vehicles were involved in spontaneous fires and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received at least 402 complaints of fires in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. In June, the Center for Auto Safety filed a complaint with the NHTSA asking it to investigate spontaneous fires unrelated to crashes in certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles. That same month, the NHTSA stated in a letter to Florida Senator Bill Nelson that it was expanding its investigation into Hyundai and Kia engine failures to include the complaints it had received about fires.
Staying with the vehicle fire theme for just a minute, Ford has recalled two million F-150s from the 2015 to 2018 model years because the seat belt pretensioner can generate excessive sparks when deploying, which may ignite gases released from the device. The pretensioner holds the seat belt tight when the sensor detects sudden deacceleration, which typically occurs in a crash. Seventeen incidents of smoke or fire from the pretensioner have been reported in the US.
Fire investigators should stay alert for these vehicle fire issues, be sure to check the federal recall databases when investigating a vehicle fire, and report all vehicle fires to the appropriate bodies, including NFIRS and the NHTSA.
Public works officials in Carson City, Nevada are looking into the cause of a series of fires that have broken out at the Flint Drive landfill this year. Four fires have occurred at the landfill this year, a number that officials say is unusual. Officials are considering whether trash disposal procedures may have a role or if the cause is something in the trash itself, such as larger batteries used in power tools that have been discarded by the public. The department is considering building a concrete pad where trash will be inspected and combustible items removed before being placed in the main landfill.
We’ve talked a lot on this podcast about the intense wildfires in the west these past few years. Causes of those fires have ranged from a flat tire to a teenager throwing a smoke bomb to a spark from a hammer to a deliberate arson by a local resident. Approximately 90% of wildfires are started by people, either intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes, human intervention can be very slight but the consequences significant. We’re reminded of that by the cause determination in the Fisher 231 fire, which burned 80 acres in Washington in late July. The investigation by the Department of Natural Resources determined that the cause was panes of glass in a debris pile focusing the rays of the sun onto combustible materials. As always, public education and viligance are key to preventing these fires, which can quickly grow out of control and become catastrophic.
We're going to end our news roundup today with a long overdue salute to the work done by accelerant detection canines. In July, the Connecticut State Police and the Tails of Hope Foundation unveiled a memorial statue honoring K9 “Mattie,” who was the world’s first laboratory-validated accelerant detection canine. Mattie was trained by the Connecticut State Police in a groundbreaking program that became the foundation of the accelerant detection canine training and placement effort. Accelerant detection canine use is now widespread and these dogs and their handlers have assisted in solving countless cases through the United States. Some of us at CFITrainer.Net were privileged to be the beneficiary of AK9 expertise early on in the effort to create virtual reality fire investigation training when Joe Toscano, who was one of the early proponents of the program at the Connecticut State Police, brought AK9s into the interFIRE VR program and arranged for AK9 Lucy and her handler Trooper Paul Horgan from the Massachusetts State Police to participate in the filming.
A quick tip to keep up on the news yourself. You can set up Google Alerts to deliver interesting fire investigation articles to your email inbox. Just go to google.com/alerts, type in the term that describes the type of news you want, for example “fire investigation,” enter your email, and click Create Alert.
Coming up on our next podcast we’ll be talking with Scott Stephens, the new Executive Director of the International Association of Arson Investigators. Expect to have that in the next couple of weeks, and we look forward to speaking with Scott.
In other news around the IAAI, the Fire Investigator Health and Safety Best Practices White Paper is out. You can go and see that and read it at www.firearson.com.
Some other news from the International Association of Arson Investigators, information that you can get up at firearson.com, take a look at the website. There are some changes that have been made there. Once you log in, you’ll notice that you need to do a few things to change your password, maybe update your profile, but you’ll also find out that there’s a new and improved way to search for people, and there’s a lot of new information up there related to training on both the international and chapter level.
For the International Association of Arson Investigators and CFITrainer.Net, I’m Rod Ammon.
Callaway, Jackie. Number of Kia vehicles catching fire continues to grow causing concern. WFTS Tampa Bay. 10 September 2018.
Hyundai and Kia Models Suffer Alarming Number of Fires, Watchdog Group Says. Consumer Reports.
Fox, Greg. NHTSA: More than 400 Kia, Hyundai vehicle fires. WESH 2. 10 Jul 2018.
Krishner, Tom. NHTSA to investigate fires linked to Hyundai-Kia engine failures. USA Today. 27 June 2018.
Quillen, Matt. Ford recalls 2 million F-150s for seat belt fire concerns WISTV.com. 6 September 2018.
Knowles, Anne. Fires cause look at Carson City landfill trash disposal. Nevada Appeal. 12 September 2018.
Sun, Rachel. Lincoln County fire sparked by sun rays shining through broken glass (and other unusual fire starts). The Spokesman-Review. 10 Aug 2018.
a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/us/california-wildfires-human-causes-arson.html" target="_blank">Arango, Tim. Behind most wildfires, a person and a park: 'we bring fire with us.' The New York Times. 20 Aug 2018
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.