"Who are you going to call?"

By Rod Ammon
Stonehouse Media Incorporated®

New scenario based program unveils fire investigation resources

At a meeting hosted by the FDNY, the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) assembled representatives from the NFPA, NIST, USFA, ATF and other private sector organizations to develop a multi faceted program identifying valuable resources available to fire investigators.

Today, fire investigators have fewer resources, less funding, huge demands for expertise and fewer team members. In an effort to continue to assist the fire investigation community, improve fire safety, fire prevention and the prosecution of arson, IAAI is creating a training program designed to identify and present valuable resources available to the fire investigator. With the assistance and expertise of numerous agencies, and the initiative and hospitality of the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), the IAAI’s Training and Education Committee is developing a cutting-edge event to be premiered at “The Rock,” FDNY’s training home at Randall’s Island, New York. The premiere is expected to host hundreds of public & private professionals from every facet of the fire investigation community, with plans to serve hundreds more participants at future training events in major metropolitan areas nationwide.

Joe Toscano, the lead developer of this project from the IAAI T&E Committee, has been involved in several innovative fire investigation-related programs. He spearheaded “Motive, Means and Opportunity,” a feature film designed to teach from a scenario, and interFIRE VR, an interactive virtual reality program distributed nationwide. He has also been a key player on the steering committee for CFITrainer.Net®.

With relationships worldwide, Toscano has collected agencies and departments into a streamlined development team that is organizing key resources for the fire investigator. The training event will feature brief but brisk presentations conducted by a select number of agencies and organizations, rich with the important information the investigator needs before, during and after a fire scene investigation.

The FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Investigation (BFI) is going to host the initial event at the department’s training facility located on Randall’s Island under the leadership of Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes. CFM Byrnes and his staff hosted several developmental meetings attended by representatives from the NFPA, NIST, USFA, IAAI, ATF and CFITrainer.Net®.

Fire investigators today are confronted with diminishing resources and need to take advantage of their networks and the latest technology to access information, build teams and get the job done. There are a number of resources, agencies and services that many investigators may have never known were available to them. The initial plan is for the training program to provide the investigator with a scenario followed by a series of streamlined presentations that will unfold details and contacts on a federal, state, local and Internet level.

The long-term plan is that after further development, attending investigators will leave with mobile applications that access a customizable database of resources with contacts and digital tools that will work on their computers and mobile devices. It is expected that these applications will be available for attendees in mid to late 2012.

“We want to bring to life every resource available today; there is so much information out there, but it’s all over the place and the fire investigation community needs to manage the information and keep up to date. Our goal is to identify as many resources as we can find in the areas of research, testing, validation tools, agency assets and more,” said Toscano from the IAAI.

The initial plan has the premiere scenario presentation sometime in early 2012 at Randall’s Island. There will be a limited audience for this initial launch. The IAAI will be announcing the details on this first time event with early registration beginning in the fall. Watch for information on www.firearson.com .

The International Association of Arson Investigators is a professional membership organization currently headquartered in Crofton, Maryland. The IAAI was founded in 1949, and is comprised of approximately 7,000 members worldwide. The organization is dedicated to the advancement of the forensic fire investigation industry through the design, development, and delivery of innovative training and education programs; and is the sponsor of a number of internationally recognized certification/professional designation programs based on guiding industry standards including the IAAI Certified Fire Investigator and IAAI Fire Investigation Technician. News Archive