CFITrainer.Net Podcast

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 the CFITrainer.Net Podcast. Today we're talking about using a lab in your investigations. More specifically, we're going to talk to two experienced forensic scientists about analysis of fatty acids, oils and alcohols, mistakes investigators make when collecting evidence and working with a lab and what you can do to use your laboratories as expert resources instead of simply processing facilities. Laurel Mason is a principal and laboratory director at Analytical Forensic Associates. She developed and manages laboratory operations training and quality assurance, including chemical analysis of ignitable liquids and fire debris. She routinely conducts chemical analysis of fire evidence including fatty acid methyl esters in self-heating fires, GC-MS, FT-IR and light microscopy. She has analyzed or supervised the analysis of over 150,000 fire debris samples and testified as an expert witness in more than 150 cases. Laurel holds the Certification of Fellow in the specialty field of Fire Debris with the American Board of Criminalistics. She is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists, the International Association of Arson Investigators, NAFI, NFBA, ASTM, and the American Chemical Society. She has held multiple offices in the Georgia Chapter of the IAAI and is a life member. She has authored several publications related to fire debris analysis and lectures on evidence collection, preservation and laboratory analysis. Doug Byron is the president of Forensic and Scientific Testing Incorporated, an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory specializing in fire debris analysis and providing support for fire investigators and adjusters. He has made over 100,000 ignitable liquid determinations. He helps develop fire debris consensus standards. He is court-qualified as an expert in 27 US states and Southeast Asia. He has authored journal articles and a book chapter on fatty acids analysis and served as a technical editor for two forensic books. He uses his experience and skills to perform fatty acid analysis to help determine spontaneous combustion possibilities along with physical tests such as modified Mackey tests to confirm self-heating tendencies. He also conducts research to improve the reliability of fire debris testing, including research of light volatiles, such as alcohols, and the retention of extracts on carbon strips. Laurel and Doug, you two are packed with experience and expertise. Welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you.

Laurel Mason: Thank you for having us, Rod.

Doug Byron: Thanks for having us, Rod.

Rod Ammon: I'd like to start out a little general and then we'll narrow in on oils and fatty acids. So drawing from your years of expertise and experience, what are the mistakes you see fire investigators and evidence techs making when collecting the many kinds of evidence in fire cases? Laurel, you want to take it first?

Laurel Mason: Sure. I think most of the problems that we see are evidence collection and packaging of the evidence. In addition to that, not notifying the lab or having an open communication with the laboratory or the analyst as to what it is that the investigator is looking for as far as the type of analysis, whether it is for ignitable liquids, whether it's for fatty acids. But actually, most of the issues that I've seen in the past is with the collection of the evidence itself, which is why we try to continue our training and education with our customers throughout the United States and Canada as far as evidence collection.

Rod Ammon: Great to hear and it's a good time to pitch the IAAI Evidence Guide that's online and that's going to be updated, as well, which teaches some of the proper evidence collection. Can you add some more specifics so we can give some people some ideas like let's just talk about gloves and cans, for instance.

Laurel Mason: Gloves and cans are a big no-no. I don't know where it started, but we don't see it as often as we used to. However, the whole point of wearing gloves is to protect from contaminating or cross-contaminating evidence. Here in the laboratory, we did just a little quick study where two of my chemists went to pump gas and they wore gloves. They wore the nitrile gloves. They brought them back, put them in cans, and we tested them and we found traces of gasoline because our recovery technique and our analytical techniques are so sensitive that it's possible to find the ignitable liquid or gasoline. So we have a steadfast rule here in our laboratory. You don't pump gas at all during the day or before your way into work.

Rod Ammon: That makes a lot of sense. What about ceiling processes or practices?

Laurel Mason: What we see quite often is that, in most of the evidence that we receive, they're in gallon or quart cans and that V-lock area where the lid goes on top of the can, oftentimes the investigators don't clean that area out and if that's not done, you don't get a good seal on the evidence container itself, on the lid itself. So that needs to be cleaned out, tapped down with a mallet, and then it needs to be tape-sealed with tamper-evident tape so that when we receive it in the laboratory we can record that it was sealed properly with tape and intact upon receipt.

Rod Ammon: Okay. What about packaging size? This was something that I hadn't thought about.

Laurel Mason: Packaging is important that you select the appropriate size container for the piece of evidence. You don't want a small piece of evidence in a gallon can, especially if that evidence contains an obvious odor of an ignitable liquid, because what will happen is the vapor pressure will build up and then it will pop that lid off the can. So you want to select a container that will fit the debris. Conversely, you don't want to have the evidence container more than three quarters full because during the recovery of the ignitable liquids, we need that headspace to produce vapors upon heating so that we can collect any volatile components.

Rod Ammon: I appreciate you going into some of these details because I know we've taught a lot of this on CFITrainer and I know that this information gets put out there a lot, but we have some new people that are listening to the podcast and it never hurts to go over some of the basics. The last thing I had here in my notes was related to time and the submission of samples.

Laurel Mason: Well, it's always advisable to submit them as soon as you take them. The longer that the evidence sits in the evidence container, obviously the more chance there is for any additional evaporation. If the evidence container is compromised, then you're really going to have an issue with evaporation of the ignitable liquid. So as soon as the investigator collects the sample, it's best to send the sample to the laboratory for the analysis.

Rod Ammon: This makes me think about how we can improve or in some cases perhaps rethink the relationship between the investigator and the laboratory. For you, and let's start with you, Doug, what's the ideal relationship with a fire investigator or an attorney look like?

Doug Byron: The ideal conversation that goes on is basically whether they would call and tell you the scenario, because every fire's similar, but they're all different. So fire investigators have a hard time, attorneys have a hard time, as well, putting the big picture together and what analysis is going to be needed and then what we can do to help them and what they can do either when they're at the scene or putting the case together of what they need done or not need done or what the data we provide means to them and they're seen and does it help them with their hypothesis or does it not? Some of these cases we see, we want to discuss this ahead of time so we can basically come up with the proper techniques and test protocols for them, whether it's fatty acids, alcohols or ignitable liquids. So the conversation, I think everybody would agree that is essential ahead of time instead of two years afterwards and find out that their hypothesis was incorrect because incorrect interpretation of the data by the fire investigator or the adjuster or the attorney. So we like that approach.

Rod Ammon: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Doug Byron: I just said that we like to get that up front and so we clarify that and move forward and we don't basically make a mess of the case.

Rod Ammon: So that handles collaboration and communication, making sure we have thorough communication between both parties. What can you do as far as helping people with education?

Doug Byron: Well, education with the investigators, justice and attorneys is to provide them with the information in the field of what's actually happening, what's going on. For instance, ASTM 1618, everybody's heard it. Everybody knows it's the interpretation of ignitable. Liquid residues. Well, now it's going to include fatty acids. It has its own standalone category for fatty acid-based products and that includes biodiesel, B100, cooking oils and things of that nature to harmonize with the already existing 2881 ASTM, which is the FAME. People know that as FAME, which will find stains, cooking oils and the like. But now ASTM 1618 has that so we need to educate the investigator so they are familiar with these terms that we're going to use today for oils and fatty acids, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, unsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated. They need to familiarize themselves with that, and there's a few in the Fire Debris Analysis book, chapter 14, it's a quick read, it's a few pages, and have a basic understanding of what the report will read and what it says and describe more of the understanding of the process. The better understanding of the process the investigator, adjuster and attorneys have, the better they can understand the report. And ASTM 1618 is going to be split into four other ASTM documents, the classification, report writing and instrumental analysis. So we need to basically express and train the investigators on what's happening in the future and currently. And with that they can get that little bit of that information on the lexicon of the topic today, which is the oils, fats, and alcohols in those chapter 14 and chapter four of the Forensic Analysis Fire Debris and Explosives. They're quick reads and it'll give them basic understanding of what they need to know as far as how they can help their hypothesis and opinions in fire scenes.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So to recap this beginning more basic introduction that we've done here, make sure we have good collaboration and communication and take advantage of the education that the people at the lab can offer you as an investigator. One thing I had here I thought was interesting, it's also sort of setting realistic expectations. And it sounds to me like what you're both saying is, and I've heard this from both of you and others in the past, "Let's not meet at the fire scene or let's not meet after, let's talk about things and make sure we have a good relationship before we start working together." How do you like to be approached? And either one of you can answer, or both of you can answer. How do you like to be approached by a fire investigator you've never worked with?

Laurel Mason: I'd like to just give them a chat and talk with them about what their needs are, what they need as far as evidence supplies and what they expect as far as turnaround time, things like that. And then we have some informational things that we send out regarding evidence collection on samples that we want to look for ignitable liquids in, as well as for evidence collection for fatty acid methyl esters, how to package certain types of liquid samples for comparison or identification. And we always have the moniker here that, if in doubt, give us a shout. Which means if the fire investigator's at the fire scene, he can give us a call if he needs direction on evidence collection or how he should package something or what he's looking at. We can actually look at his video and he can take us along with him and we can guide him as far as evidence collection. So we'd like to have that initial communication and then follow up on everything when there's any questions during collection.

Rod Ammon: It's nice to have that technology of being able to flip your phone out and grab a video and share that with somebody online instantly. It's a good thing. What are your thoughts, Doug?

Doug Byron: Yeah, that's exactly right. We're probably the only laboratories around that will encourage the investigator, especially on the scene, to give us a call, either one of us. Same rules apply with our lab, as well. You're at the fire scene and what I always tell them is don't forget, we're usually inside an air-conditioned HVAC laboratories with libraries and computers, internet, ice water or whatever, and you're out there on the fire scene. So we're a support line. Basically, you're at the fire scene, you don't have a lot of resource and reference material when you approach a fire scene for collection of evidence and preservation of something that's non-routine. So we encourage them to call us, we'll talk about it. And it doesn't matter if they're clients or not clients. You're at a fire scene and you need some assistance, you just call and get that assistance while you're there or in case you need to go somewhere and get materials if you need to and then of course send us whatever you have as far as if you get new materials so we can make sure it's clear of any unintended ignitable liquids. But yeah, we guide those guys at the scene so the fire investigator can get the information they need when they're there and not have to worry about going back. That should be in every fire investigator's mind is they have an avenue, one of us, whoever they call, to get that information while they're there, which will save a lot of time and frustration and anxiety of what they're going to do, when they're going to do, how they're going to do it. And again, if they just need reference material as far as what's the temperature of a 100-watt light bulb on its side? We can look that up. We have the Ignition Handbook ready from Vyto. We have all kinds of information that they may want, not necessarily for sampling either, just to have a question.

Rod Ammon: That's great to hear you bring up a good point because I'm thinking about where you guys are down south, specifically. It's got to be pretty nasty to be on some of those fire scenes and real nice to be able to make a call to somebody who's in air conditioning with nice cool water, but we'll hope they have some water, as well.

Doug Byron: I hope so.

Rod Ammon: Let's move into what our main gist of today is, and that's talking about fatty acids. What are fatty acids and how do they get involved in a fire case?

Doug Byron: Yeah, fatty acids are basically from free fatty acids and triglycerides. We transesterfy them for fatty acid methyl esters, and we'll just go with FAMEs, just to keep it simple. And FAMEs can come in a fire scene and be useful, say a cooking fire, a suspected cooking fire. It could be cooking oils on rags that were laundered by the restaurant owner or oil-soaked rags left near a heat source or in wood finishes, varnishes, wood stains. So that goes into some subrogation issues and SIU issues, rarely, but it can be used, the ignitable liquids in the stains and wood finishes. So these fatty acid methyl esters can basically be anywhere. And now that they're a category standalone classification interpretation guide, we have fatty acid-based products, charcoal lighter fluids. We have some of these things in laundry products. So basically we have these tests we're going to have to use for the fatty acid methyl esters. They're usually in 18-carbon chains. And this is described in chapter 14 of the Fire Analysis book. And they go through it really well to describe the oils and they're functioning characters. But basically we go about chronological numbers of 18 as a carbon chain and then a semicolon, or actually a colon, whatever it is, the two dots, and a number 0, 1, 2, 3. And so basically we use those to keep it simple and the 18 and then whatever the number is beside it, 2, 3, those are polyunsaturated. A 1 is mono and 0 is saturated. So you can use 16:1, well, 16:0 and 18:3, 2, and 1. So these fatty acids seem complicated, but they're really, really simple and we can repetize those and we have the standard test methods and we can look at those to determine if it's unsaturated, saturated, and then it's chemical tendency to self-heat. So that's basically the general form of the FAMEs, or fatty acid methyl esters. It's relatively new to the fire investigation field, about 20 years or so. It's been around for a long time, hundreds of years, as far as these oils varnishes, stained linseed oil so it's a pretty interesting topic.

Laurel Mason: When Doug's talking about saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and he talked about the numbers after the carbon, what those numbers indicate are the number of double bonds that are in that carbon chain of 18 and the greater the number of double bonds, for instance in C18:3, you have three double bonds. Those type of fatty acids have a greater propensity for undergoing self-heating at those reactive sites. That's just an amplification as to what those numbers mean when they are seen in a report.

Doug Byron: Correct. And it's the double bonds that, once they start polymerizing and crosslinking, produce the heat. So the more double bonds you have, the higher tendency you have of them self-heating because, as they break, they create heat.

Rod Ammon: And just to be clear, when you're saying self-heating, you're talking about spontaneous combustion?

Laurel Mason: It can eventually turn into spontaneous combustion. The reaction itself is an exothermic reaction, and if that heat is not allowed to dissipate, that reaction will go into a thermal runaway condition. And then you have self-heating and an open-flaming and ignition of the surrounding combustible materials.

Doug Byron: Right. So self-heating will occur as an exothermic reaction and it can possibly go into spontaneous combustion. And some of these compounds and oily products that are made today, they can self-heat to a point, but then the reactants deplete and through other tests you can see that they may self-heat, but they don't self-heat enough to go to thermal runaway. So there's some nuances in with it, but in general that's what happens. It'll go exothermic reaction, self-heating, thermal runaway and spontaneous combustion.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So what is the analysis that is performed on fatty acids? You touched on it. What do you need to do that analysis? Either one of you want to take that first?

Laurel Mason: Sure. It depends upon the debris sample itself. In a lot of cases what we're looking at are cloth materials, whether those cloth materials are materials that are found in a dryer where there may have been a fire in the dryer or other materials that have been used to stain or finish the surface in staining cases. What we do is we take a portion of that material. And in our laboratory we look at and smell and look at the best areas to take a sample that will yield the result that we're looking for, if possible. So we're a little selective on sampling. We take that material, we extract it with a solvent called pentane and then concentrate that solvent by evaporation after we filter it and remove any particulate that might be present. And then, because the fatty acids are such large molecules, they're not good analytes for the gas chromatograph, so we have to change them into fatty acid methyl esters, which is the derivitization. So we add another solvent to that, so to speak. And then what is left in the oily layer, which is the pentane layer, is the fatty acid methyl ester. And that's what we analyze on gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and we determine what is left as far as any fatty acids, whether they're saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and that's how we interpret the data.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So what did investigators sometimes have an issue with? What do they do sometimes that you wish they could do better with this evidence?

Doug Byron: With the evidence or the data, once we send the report. I'll start with the report. We'll send the report and they need to understand, and so do adjusters and insurance companies in subrogation, they received the report and we are reporting the current condition after the fire. So they need to, instead of thinking that these results are what was before the fire, but sometimes we have a misunderstanding of what they read in the report is the way it was before the fire. So they can then assume and work backwards. As long as they understand it's after the fire and then we can work backwards, so if we have say a monounsaturated or a one double-bond fatty acid after the fire, you can then deduct that it could be more unsaturated before the fire because of degradation through the fire and being a reactant in the material, starting the fire, or maybe starting the fire, creating the fire. So that's one thing that a lot of conversation goes on about is the report as it's worded as-is after the fire.

Laurel Mason: The investigators need to understand that what we're looking at is what is left after the reaction, I think is the simplest thing to say. And we can't make that determination that, well, it could have had a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids in there. We can't make that determination. But based upon other evidence that may be present, maybe we find a distinct petroleum distillate that is in the cloth materials, let's say, as well as a comparison sample of the stain from the sink. We can say, "Well, this is a unique petroleum distillate. We found a little bit of fatty acid methyl esters in your debris. We found some ignitable liquid in the debris sample and it's consistent with this unique ignitable liquid or carrier or solvent that's in the known sample." So it's kind of important that they understand what's going on as far as the reaction goes. And two, I think it's important that they understand what to sample and what not to sample. A lot of times we get questions, "Well, I've got wood at the intersection or between the floor and the wall. Should I take that?" Well, what are we looking for? Are we looking for ignitable liquids or are we looking for fatty acids? And so I think what we here try to do is educate the investigator as to what type of samples to take. And I think as we had stated earlier, and Doug had talked about, that it's important for the investigator to communicate with us even if they're on the fire scene or before they go out to the fire scene, what it is that they have as far as their fire scene goes.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So how do investigators recognize that the fatty acid analysis may be needed and how do they properly collect that for testing? What mistakes do they make? You're touching on it already.

Laurel Mason: I think quite frequently the investigators will take samples, let's say cloth materials, and they'll submit them to the laboratory and want to check for ignitable liquids. Well, whenever we see anything, if we're not told ahead of time, if we see anything that comes across our laboratory that has cloth material or from a dryer or from a bucket or whatever, we stop right then and call the investigator and say, "Listen, let's talk about your sample a little bit. What's the background on this case?" And quite frequently they'll say, "Well, there was a staining fire, or this is cloth material from a dryer and everything ignited." And we educate them then, "Well, look, this is what you need to do. Let's do this analysis and then we'll do the fatty acid analysis." And unfortunately, some investigators are not familiar with that type of testing, but I think it's getting better. Doug, do you agree, as far as their familiarity?

Doug Byron: I agree. Yeah, I remember years ago, 20 years ago, Eric Stoff and I were playing around with these fatty acid trying to get away from infra-reds, or FT-IR, to basically make it simple. And so the FDA had this FAME protocol so we played with it and we were going around talking about it and we had a bunch of people that said that this thing, spontaneous combustion, there's no such thing. And even up to the point where one of the state chapters, a fire chief said, "That's just a myth. There's no such thing," up until, I think it was about eight years ago. So from the last 10 years there's been, even in subrogation and SSIU, all kinds of testing. It's a relatively frequent test these days and a lot of people have finally realized that this is capable of happening and people are still learning about it and the mechanism of how it happens. But yeah, there was some fire chiefs that even a few years ago that didn't believe it happened. Because it's an unwitnessed fire, in the dryers, people with some massage oils just wash their clothes and rags and in the middle of the night there's a fire. So yeah, with this testing and with our stuff we do at our laboratories, we're able to open their eyes. But yeah, it's a relatively new thing and now that people are opening their eyes to it, now they're starting to see that some of the undetermined fires could be assisted with actually having a cause and then the insurance companies are following suit with the subrogation with painters and improperly discarded rags. And so there's a lot of money involved with recouping and finding whoever may be at fault with GCs and painters and homeowners or whatever may be the cause, everything's different. But yeah, it's becoming a very popular test and a lot of people are opening their eyes to it.

Laurel Mason: I think right now it's more so understood by those that are in the private investigation industry because they deal more with subrogation cases. We're still trying to educate a lot of our customers who are fire departments or investigation units in various states or whatever, as far as the idea of self-heating. I know we had a case up in Vermont where, no, excuse me, New York, where the fire investigator for that municipality indicated that it was a brand new restaurant and this woman had a fire in her dryer and he said, "I'm pretty sure it's arson." And I went, "Well, let's talk about this a little bit." And he thought she was going under financially, which she wasn't, but we analyzed the rags and, sure enough, there were high levels of fatty acid. She wasn't even getting any of that, to be honest with you, as far as through the laundry process. So I think we need to still focus on educating the public sector as far as self-heating and spontaneous combustion.

Doug Byron: Yeah, they're picking it up, but they're public safety, it's not arson. They really don't care about it. But they're seeing these cases in some of the elderly communities and, like she just discussed about the dryers, a lot of it's in the dryers and things that normally by themselves wouldn't self-heat or spontaneously combust, but once you get the dryer to initiate that, it tends to happen. So we've had a few fire departments question that and just said they have a weird fire and they send it in. I'm like, "Man, you got a ton of fatty acids here in the dryer, and this is typical of your scenario that this is a self-heating fire, not an arson fire." So they're coming around and, again, it's difficult for them because they're looking for a crime, so they're having more determinations of it not being a crime, but they still have to figure that out. But they're getting it pretty good, and so, with our laboratories and a lot of the information going out, they're picking it up pretty quick.

Rod Ammon: I want to step back a little bit. We've talked about doing more to collect evidence properly, what mistakes have been made, but if I'm an investigator and I walk into a room near an origin, I'm guessing, how do I recognize that fatty acid analysis may be needed?

Doug Byron: What you could look for, some of the physical indicators at a fire setting, usually, now I'm going to leave extension of the fire out, we're just going to go basic fire indicators. But it may be an isolated fire where there's just a fire. It was maybe in a circle in the living room and it looks like a piece of plastic underneath it and just a circular fire and just unusual. So it's an isolated fire, unwitnessed fire, lots of smoke on the walls. And then you can say, "Well, what else could cause this?" Well, one of the common ones is, of course, spontaneous combustion. So anytime you think of self-heating or these three indicators you can think of, I want to do a fatty acid test on this because I know that these fatty acids can create a scenario in which fire can occur unwitnessed, middle of the night, lots of smoke, these reactions have lots of smoke. And then every now and then, say it's a different fire and say there's someone that smelled something really bad that smelled pretty good before, with burning tortillas or someone was cooking and then it turned rancid and just nasty, eyes watering. Those are indications of a self-heating fire. And then you want to do a fatty acid test with that fire, as well. So you have physical indicators that would assist them to determine if they want this test or even a modified Mackey test, which is a physical test, to see if in fact that product does self-heat and, if it does self heat, will it go to ignition?

Rod Ammon: Very helpful, and I like the way you described the indications at the scene. Laurel, anything you want to add there?

Laurel Mason: Yeah, one of the scenarios also that an investigator may see is in either households or other facilities where they take the towels or rags or whatever cloth materials out of the dryer when they are still hot and fold them up and pile them up. And so you may have a fire in, let's say, a laundry basket next to the dryer that doesn't have any cloth material left in it or on a shelf in the storage area of a restaurant. Those are other things that you can look for. You can see that the cloth materials will be burned from the inside. Most charring will be from the inside and less on the outside of the material itself.

Rod Ammon: Great points. Thank you. So let's talk about alcohols. What are some of the properties related to alcohols and their presence at fire scenes that investigators should be aware of?

Laurel Mason: Well, the biggest one is they're water-soluble. Alcohols, first of all are single components. When we look at ignitable liquids like gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, whatever, those are hundreds and hundreds of different components. The alcohols and the ketones are the lightest components that we can recover from debris samples. And most of them, as I said, are water-soluble. So that which does not evaporate during burning can oftentimes be diluted to such a concentration that we won't be able to detect it. They're a tricky little beast, but we do find them quite frequently, to be honest.

Rod Ammon: So, I understand not all alcohols burn well. Can either one of you talk about that a little bit?

Doug Byron: Yeah, basically alcohols in general, I think people think of ethyl alcohol or drinking alcohol. So beer for instance, the percentage by volume 3.5% to 13%, that won't burn. As a matter of fact, anything less than 40% by volume of alcohol, Jack Daniels, vodka, stuff like that, there's so much water content, it doesn't burn that well. You get into grain alcohol, Golden Grain, spirits like that, then it becomes more useful and so you get more heat release and less water. Think of the percentages mixed with water. So Of course, then that makes it water-soluble but as far as seeing it. Now, the other ketones you mentioned like acetone, some of the mixed, what do you call it, isopropyl alcohol, IPAs, the higher the percentage of those, 91%, they will actually burn a little better. But normally on a hard surface they'll only burn for up to 30 seconds and go out. So they'll need a medium to support the burning of it so there's not much heat release rate either with these alcohols. And at ASTN, on our science side, like Laurel said, they're difficult to find, but we do find them. So the old method, where we'd say that it'd be a magnitude of order stronger than anything else, well now it's changed to it should be a large excess of the compound in visual reference to the average matrix peaks. So it's very difficult to do, but it can be done. There's other techniques that's coming out that will be published soon, ways to identify the alcohols. But as far as alcohols go, they're very difficult to identify also because they're in a lot of matrix, foams, clothing from bodies, all kinds of good stuff. So yeah, it's a difficult thing for the laboratory. And then it helps with the fire scene if they have containers, plastic or metals, have a metal acetone can or something that may look like a cord acetone can that someone may have purchased at Home Depot. So things like that are to consider if you think it's an alcohol fire or someone says it was by a bar, is to think about the alcohol content versus water content and to see if it's actually effective because they make poor accelerants, or ignitable liquids, as far as that goes.

Rod Ammon: So, knowing this about your ability to do some analysis on alcohols, how is that valuable in a fire investigation?

Doug Byron: I had one yesterday. As a matter of fact, I started laughing thinking we had this podcast that that case would come up, but one yesterday in a fire scene. I got the sample, I saw this, I said, "Wow, the acetone's a little strong," so I did another technique and bam, it was just off the charts. So I called and said, "What's going on with this fire scene?" He sent me a picture of a mat in the kitchen in front of the oven where you can see the soot on the outside of the oven. The oven was clean and it was just a mat and smoke everywhere. He knew that there was something strange with the mat, didn't really smell an odor, and sent that in. And lo and behold, there's acetone there. And then of course there was a container, which always helps. So yeah, there was a brain-teaser for that guy and we were able to help him out. And then everything else started coming together as far as the scene indicators, as well. So it worked out pretty good.

Rod Ammon: Good. Laurel, anything to add?

Laurel Mason: We analyzed evidence from a case in New York. It was in Oneanta, New York, actually, and we received the samples from the investigator that was working for the insurance carrier. We analyzed the evidence and we thought we could smell isopropyl alcohol when we received the evidence. And then after we took it out of the oven for a few minutes, we could definitely smell isopropyl alcohol. Well, it turns out that this was a case where a man whose brother owned a hair-cutting shop, or a barbershop, was angry at his girlfriend so he went into that shop and took two one-gallon bottles of isopropyl alcohol and he poured at the base of her doorway. And this was a two-flat and there was a family upstairs. The family was a former Oneanta firefighter, his fiance and four nephews. Well, the fire started at the bottom. The former firefighter, Mr. Heller, was able to get everyone out of the upstairs room or the upstairs apartment. The actual girlfriend of the suspect was at a bar with another man and he had seen her and it was a case of jealous rage and he was going to burn her out. The firefighter perished, the former firefighter perished, but we were able to find the isopropyl alcohol quite a bit in the flooring material at the bottom of the floor. What was interesting also in this case is they had a video of the suspect lighting the fire with the isopropyl alcohol, which we didn't know anything about until way after, actually when I went to testify in the case. But unfortunately, Mr. Heller perished in this fire, but they were able to get justice for the family in this case.

Rod Ammon: That's a sad case, but good to know that you were there to help make it more concrete. Doug, anything else you want to add as far as examples of some of your casework?

Doug Byron: There was E85. It's 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and part of the standard, it's very vague. And so we've had a couple cases in which, or one specific case in which it was in some clothing, and of course we're finding this ethanol. I didn't see much indication of anything else being the aromatics of gasoline at all because it's mainly ethanol. Well, ethyl alcohol can be an alcohol. So basically it comes down, is it Jack Daniels or gasoline? It was very odd to say and hear, but with the ethanol, testing the sample, again, I didn't see any portion of the gasoline. Well, they brought some more samples in and it got stronger and stronger, and I'm able to see a little bit of the gasoline, and I was looking at that and I was like, "Wow, this is interesting." So this fire went from possibly an accidental fire that burnt the house down to basically an arson fire with the guy now being able to track him to the gas station purchasing specifically E85 with a different color handle. And then we were able to determine it was not in fact ethyl alcohol, but in fact E85 gasoline.

Rod Ammon: Wow, that's very interesting. As a guy who rides a motorcycle, I'm not a real big fan of E85, but I'm wondering if-

Doug Byron: It's a horrible fuel.

Rod Ammon: Well, then there's that. I'm also wondering, was there any purpose? Did this person select E85 or was it just the cheapest at the pump that day?

Doug Byron: It was the cheapest at the pump. It seems to be 30 to 50 cents a gallon cheaper, and it's about 30% less efficient. But as far as, I guess if you're going to do something for fraud, you want to save all the money you can, I guess. That's what he said finally, that it was cheaper.

Rod Ammon: Well, so for all you out there considering this, it doesn't matter, the lab's going to get you, whether it's E85 or high-test. Anything else you want to add there, Laurel?

Laurel Mason: No, that's great. That's an interesting case, Doug.

Rod Ammon: That sure is. I hadn't thought about that. I just get excited when I can find pure gasoline. So we've covered a lot and I think it's some pretty deep stuff when you actually get into the heart of it. And one thing I want to review, Doug, you mentioned some books and some articles that people should read. I wanted to give you an opportunity to repeat those.

Doug Byron: The Forensic Analysis of Fire Debris and Explosives. It was a book written by a bunch of analysts, ATFs and FBI folks. I wrote chapter four, talking about alternative fuels, biofuels such as E85 or the bio diesels. And then for what we've been discussing, for general background knowledge, in chapter 14 of the Fire Debris Analysis book, I know it specifically says Fire Debris Analysis book, but really that book's useful in evidence collection and preservation, as well. And it comes in a searchable PDF, but they can grab that book and check out chapter 14, specifically for the fatty acids or the spontaneous combustion, self-heating. It explains the double bonds in the 18 carbon chain and all the way to the thermodynamic reaction where it creates thermal runaway, to the interpretation and forensic approach. It really goes through it and it's an easy read. There's not very big technical words that aren't explained, and it's good for just general knowledge for anybody in the field, from attorneys, adjusters, investigators, or even anybody just interested in general. It really spells it out in general, pretty well.

Rod Ammon: Laurel, anything you want to add there?

Laurel Mason: I think he's pretty much covered it. That and the IAAI Evidence Collection Guide.

Rod Ammon: I love it when you bring that up. As I said, we're headed down to Huntsville, Alabama to NCETR next week, and we're going to be adding, oh, I think five or six different types of evidence collection to the evidence guides, so that'll be updated in the months to come. And yeah, it's a great online tool and we hear good things from people about that. I guess the last thing, and it's sort of repetitive, but I think it's a really important topic. What are tips for how fire investigators can take advantage of what the lab provides? And I'll give you each a minute to say, "Hey, these are the best things we got for you. Do something about it."

Laurel Mason: I think the best thing that they can do to take advantage of the lab is just give us a call and let's chat. Let's talk about your case. "If in doubt, give us a shout," is what we like to say. We're here to educate you as far as evidence collection, and we're here to protect your case as far as evidence collection. And I think that's important to know, as well. But I think communication is the key here with the investigators in the laboratory, and we're always excited to hear from clients and to talk to clients. If you're in the areas, come to the laboratories, come visit the laboratories, see what we do, we'll be happy and Doug will be happy to show you, excuse me, the investigator, what we do on a daily basis, what the interpretation of the data looks like, what a GC looks like, what a mass spectrometer looks like. But, in conclusion, I just think it's communication. Just feel free to communicate with your laboratory. We're here as your service avenue for evidence collection and interpretation of data.

Rod Ammon: Doug, your last chance. Pitch what you think fire investigators can do to best take advantage of working with you in the lab?

Doug Byron: Yeah, the best thing they can do is basically utilize our services and resources, which are the people and the knowledge. And basically we're here to help. We are basically at their disposal. We are here for them and only them and their case, and then everybody involved with the case. And so with that, as Laurel mentioned, again, we'll be glad to talk to you, show you how it works. A lot of people think we just run the cans through a machine and it just gives us the data and we give it to them. Well, I like to show them that it's just a charcoal strip the size of your pinky now and you show them what it looks like. So when they're at a fire scene and they're thinking of how best to preserve vapors, they have an idea in their mind and have a visual and it helps them understand. So we can help them understand what their purpose is and what they're doing to collect the evidence to try to prove their hypothesis and come to a conclusion for the client is to communicate and find out what we can provide them, as well as just references and material that they may need on the case that we're not even involved with. So we're here to help. We're here to help and make them the best they can be regardless if they use us or not.

Rod Ammon: You know what I love that both of you said, and it gets to an irritation that I have these days. I'm a phone guy. I always love the phone. If I could have email go away for a while or just go into details, that would be a great thing for me. But I love the fact that you focused on using the phone to call. Don't send an email to try to describe a long case or-

Doug Byron: The context is lost so many times in text and tone, text and content is lost in text. You don't get that as you do on the telephone or FaceTime.

Rod Ammon: And then the other option is the fact that both of you are willing to open up your lab and give somebody a tour and let them understand why it's important that they do certain things the way that they do, and that probably opens up a lot of opportunity for them to do a better job out there in the field. I guess I want to give you guys one last thing to say. I said that before, but I thought of another. Technology is changing. There's a lot of stuff going on with analysis and what we can do with computers. Either one of you want to talk about some of the new things coming at us from the labs?

Laurel Mason: Well, we just got a new GC-MS with a different type of enhanced detector, which we're seeing quite a bit of increase in sensitivity. That's the GC-MS that we use for ignitable liquids. We also have one that we just do fatty acid methyl esters on. But other than that, I don't think there's really anything that's coming to the forefront anytime soon other than just maybe communication via Zoom or communication via FaceTime with investigators as we had talked about before. I think that's just fascinating and fabulous that we can actually be with the investigator at the fire scene and say, "No, look at that over there. Take a sample here." Doug?

Doug Byron: Yes, as far as the technology, really, the technology with sensitivities it's where it's moving. I'd like to see more specificity and in the data collection, but we're just not there yet. So we have about as good as technology we have for now. I do look forward to new techniques down the road. But as far as going through with the investigator, with the technology outside the laboratory, in which we can then harmonize the communication such as the Zoom, FaceTime at the fire scene, giving them ideas of a container that looks odd, don't be afraid to collect it. It's easier to collect it and not use it than to not collect it and need it, kind of like Aflac. But that's something we notice in the lab at a fire scene is we notice weird things like that. Investigators may not because they're inside the box, so to speak, and we're on the outside of the box, so we can bring another perspective to them. That's the value added by the laboratories, between Laurel and myself, that we provide the investigators.

Rod Ammon: Beautiful. I appreciate the information you guys have shared. We've had a lot going on. Am I missing anything before we end for the day? We seem to have had a lot of good information.

Doug Byron: It was a good conversation, a good chat and good talking to you guys.

Laurel Mason: Excellent, excellent.

Rod Ammon: Well, I want to thank you from everybody at the IAAI and CFITrainer, and I hope investigators and attorneys and others will use this as a motivation to reach out to their laboratories and talk about some of the things we've discussed here and open those lines of communication and collaboration for better results. We appreciate your time today, both Doug and Laurel. Thank you.

Doug Byron: Thanks, Rod.

Laurel Mason: Thank you.

Doug Byron: And IAAI, too.

Laurel Mason: Thank you, all of you.

Rod Ammon: This podcast and CFITrainer.Net are made possible by funding from a fire prevention and safety grant from the Assistance to Firefighters grant program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security with support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and voluntary online donations from CFITrainer.Net users and podcast listeners. Thanks for joining us today on the podcast. Stay safe out there. We'll see you next month. For the IAAI and CFITrainer.Net, I'm Rod Ammon.

NEWS ROUNDUP: March 2024 - News Roundup - March 2024
Discussing Mentorship from Both the Mentor and Mentee Perspectives with Steve Avato - We discuss mentorship, from both the mentor and mentee perspectives, with Steve Avato, retired ATF Supervisory Special Agent CFI and Fire Marshal Captain with the Loudoun County Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office.
A CONVERSATION WITH SPECIAL AGENT ADAM ST. JOHN AND CAPTAIN CRAIG MATTHEWS - Today, we’re taking a deep dive into fires where the ignition was associated with CSST — that’s corrugated stainless steel tubing.
The Role of Metallurgical and Materials Science in Fire Origin and Cause Determination. - We’ve got something new and pretty interesting for you today — a closer look at the role of metallurgical and materials science in fire origin and cause determination. Our guide into this world is Larry Hanke.
What's new at the National Fire Academy - A conversation with Kevin Oliver on what’s new at the National Fire Academy.
2022 IAAI Investigator of the Year - Today we're talking with Fire Arson Investigator Nicole Brewer of Portland Fire and Rescue in Oregon. Investigator Brewer was named the IAAI Investigator of the Year in 2022
Multi Unit Multi Fatality Fires - This month, we’re tackling a tough topic on the CFITrainer.Net podcast.
NFPA 1321 is coming in 2023. Are you ready? December 2022 - In 2023, NFPA will release a new standard, NFPA 1321: Standard for Fire Investigation Units. We preview this standard on the newest episode of the CFITrainer.Net podcast.
Spoliation: What You Don't Know Can Jeopardize Your Investigation November 2022 - Attorney Chris Konzelmann Discusses Lessons Learned from Recent Litigation
The Internet of Things: September 2022 - Welcome to the CFITrainer.Net podcast. Today, we're talking about the Internet of Things. You're going to learn what that is and why it's an important investigative tool you might not be using.
News Roundup: July 2022 - This month on a new episode of the CFITrainer.Net podcast, we’re talking about fascinating news that’s crossed our feed recently.
June 2022 - On this month’s CFITrainer.Net podcast, we're going to get into an issue that seems to be increasing in regularity, and that's warehouse fires.
Fire Investigator Health and Safety: March 2022 - This month on a new episode of the CFITrainer.Net podcast, Dr. Gavin Horn, Research Engineer at UL's Fire Safety Research Institute, and Jeff Pauley, Chair of the IAAI’s Health & Safety Committee, discuss the latest research on fire investigator health and safety.
NFPA 1321: New NFPA Standard Affecting Fire Investigation Units: January 2022 - On this month’s CFITrainer.Net podcast, we talk with Randy Watson, chair of the technical committee for NFPA 1321: Standard for Fire Investigation Units.
December 2021 - On this month’s CFITrainer.Net podcast, we look back at 2021 and how CFITrainer.Net evolved to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing technology.
October 2021 - Welcome to the CFITrainer.Net Podcast. It's been a while since we've done a news round up so today we're covering some new research and fire investigation cases.
Fire as a Cover for Murders and Gender Reveal Fires: September 2021 - This episode we talk to Texas Ranger Sergeant Drew Pilkington about incendiary fires as a cover for murder and we discuss a tragic quadruple domestic violence homicide.
May 2021 - As part of National Arson Awareness Week, CFITrainer.Net has a new podcast exploring the week's theme, "Arson During Civil Unrest."
December 2020 - On this podcast we talk to Bobby Schaal about the new Fire Investigation for Fire Officer certificate and then we offer a brief update on an investigation in Stowe, Vermont.
August 2020 - This month we talk to a legend in the fire investigation field, Dr. Quintiere, sometimes known as Dr. Q. He has a rich experience in the fire service dating back to the 70’s, and he is working on fire in micro-gravity today.
July 2020 - July '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this new episode of the CFITrainer.Net podcast, Scott Bennett, talks about the fascinating case he and Mark Shockman worked that won them the IAAI Investigator of the Year Award. You won't want to miss our conversation. And, new IAAI President Rick Jones stops by to discuss what he is excited about for IAAI's growth this coming year — there are a lot of innovative and valuable initiatives on the way.
June 2020 - June '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month's podcast we interview Doug Byron, President and Senior Forensic Chemist from the FAST lab about fats and oils and spontaneous combustion, and how they are involved in fire investigation. After our interview with Doug, we offer some thoughts on your job and the COVID-19 situation.
May 2020 - May '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us this month for a new podcast where we talk briefly about online learning that is available and then we speak with Dr. Peter Mansi, Past President of the IAAI.
April 2020 - April '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the Podcast we interview President Barry M. Grimm from the IAAI and talk to Wayne Miller, Author of "Burn Boston Burn -The largest arson case in the history of the country.
March 2020 - March '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the Podcast we talk about some resources for COVID, updates from the IAAI and talk with a fire Marshall in New Hampshire about challenges in their region related to Sober Homes.
February 2020 - February '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast follows along with our technology theme. We look at social media’s effect on some fire investigations and then we talk with Mike Parker about his work with social media while at the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
January 2020 - January '20 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast gives you updates on Australia’s wild fires and an investigation and arrest tied to a large New Jersey fire. We also talk with Zach McCune from Rolfe’s Henry about a case study and course that he and Shane Otto will be leading at ITC this year. Zach talks about an arson fraud case and how spoofing and masking technologies were used to frame an innocent mother and perpetuate an arson fraud.
December 2019 - December '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In under ten minutes this podcast offers a review of 2019 milestones and new content and features that you might have missed. We also give you a quick preview of what to expect in 2020.
November 2019 Podcast - November '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we learn about two new technology solutions being studied for fire investigation and then we visit with Lester Rich from the National Fire Academy
October 2019 Podcast - October '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast episode, we’re back for the second part of the CCAI live burn training event — the actual burn and post-fire.
September 2019 Podcast - September '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we travel to San Luis Obispo where we were hosted by the California chapter of the IAAI (CCAI). We had a rare opportunity to experience what it’s like to set up this training and experience a wildland burn in California. There was a lot to learn!
August 2019 Podcast - August '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's CFITrainer.Net podcast is under 15 minutes and offers information about fires in electric vehicles and what you need to know.
May 2019 Podcast - May '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month's CFITrainer.Net podcast, you'll hear from ATF Special Agent Chad Campanell, who will discuss how ATF can assist state and local fire investigators with training and investigations, ATF resources available to fire investigators, and ATF's support of CFITrainer.Net. Also, we summarize the final report of a multi-fatality fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania, where ATF cooperated with state and local investigators to reach conclusions.
April 2019 Podcast - April '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. There are two new additions to CFITrainer.Net! A new podcast with Dan Madrzykowski from UL speaking about ventilation and Fire Flow, and a new module called “Fire Flow Analysis”.
March 2019 Podcast - March '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast includes updates from the IAAI related to the election, the upcoming ITC, and a new website specifically about evidence collection. After the updates, you will also hear some news stories related to fire investigation.
February 2019 Podcast - February '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month take 10 mins and hear some fire investigation and IAAI news.
January 2019 Podcast - January '19 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we’re looking back on some of the biggest issues in fire investigation in 2018.
November 2018 Podcast - November '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk with Jeff Pauley from the IAAI’s Health and Safety Committee. Jeff is an IAAI-CFI and the Chairman of the Health and Safety Committee. In this podcast, he talks about ways to reduce exposure to carcinogens related to fire investigation. By listening, you will learn about ways to reduce your risks, learn about new resources that are available to assist you, and research that is coming soon.
October 2018 Podcast - October '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month meet and learn about IAAI’s new Executive Director, Scott Stephens and plans for the future. After that interview, hear some wild stories from the national news related to fire investigation.
September 2018 News Roundup - September '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts.
Short stories related to fire investigation - June '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us for a brief Podcast that includes five minutes of short stories related to fire investigation.
What you need to know about Arson Awareness week - April '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we welcome Tonya Hoover, the Superintendent of the National Fire Academy. Superintendent Hoover came to the NFA with more than 20 years of experience in local and state government, most recently as the California State Fire Marshal.
Growing pot and earning Bitcoin can start fires? - March '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this month’s podcast, hear a story about how the Bitcoin business might be causing fires? What similarities are there between Pot growers and now Bitcoin miners?
Training related to wildland fire investigation - February '18 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast highlights new training related to wildland fire investigation featuring an interview with Paul Way, and this year’s International Training Conference. We also have a pretty wild story before we wrap up. Birds starting fires?
Smart homes and digital data gathering issues - December '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast, we discuss two topics on the technology and forensics cutting edge. Michael Custer of Kilgore Engineering, Inc. and retired Special Agent Tully Kessler share some knowledge and give us a taste of the classes that they will be presenting at ITC 2018.
Discussion with Writer Monica Hesse - September '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this podcast, you will hear some great news related to the IAAI and CFITrainer.Net and then we have an interview with Monica Hesse, the writer of a new book called "American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land."
Discussion with Criminalist- John DeHaan - June '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month on the CFITrainer.Net podcast, we talk to Criminalist, fire investigation expert and Author of "Kirk’s Fire Investigation", John DeHaan.
The Ghost Ship - May '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. For this podcast, we hear from a retired Captain of the Long Beach Fire Department, Pat Wills. Pat has been in the fire service for 37 years. He has been a leader and an investigator, now he is an educator speaking around the country about the importance of code enforcement.
Fast Podcast about ITC! - March '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to David Bridges about what to expect at ITC and the training you won’t want to miss.
CFITrainer Podcast- A profile with an IAAI-CFI® - February '17 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Join us this month for our podcast as we interview IAAI member and CFI, Jeff Spaulding from Middletown, Ohio. Jeff talks about his work in both the public and private sector and then he shares an interesting story about how a pacemaker is helping in an investigation.
An interview with Dr. James Quintiere - December '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In a discussion with Dr. James Quintiere, we learn about some of his work in fire sciences, a bit about his research, his opinions related to the World Trade Center investigation and what he thinks is important to fire investigation as a scholarly leader in our field.
Fire Investigation After the Flood Podcast - November '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Dan Hebert, an IAAI, CFI about "How Floods affect Fire Investigation."
September 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk about the recent changes in the FAA's regulations for commercial and public sector use of UAS or "Drones".
August 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Jessica Gotthold about the Seaside Heights fire in NJ from 2013
July 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we talk to Fire Marshall, Ken Helms of the Enid, OK. Fire Department about his team winning the Fire Investigator of the Year award.
March 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's fire investigation podcast from the IAAI's CFITrainer.Net focuses on the Youth Firesetting Information Repository and Evaluation System, which is called YFIRES for short.
February 2016 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '16 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's fire investigation podcast from the IAAI's CFITrainer.Net focuses on what you need to do to ensure the integrity of samples sent to the lab. A conversation with Laurel Mason of Analytical Forensic Associates.
September 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. Our podcast related to the legalization of recreational marijuana and its effect on fire investigation was one of the most popular podcasts ever on CFITrainer.Net. This month’s podcast is a follow up with one of our listeners from California who is an investigator doing training on this very topic.
August 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast is about NFIRS where we interview the Executive Director of The National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation, Jim Narva.
July 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. In this special edition of podcast we’re going to meet the newest IAAI Investigator of the Year, Andrea Buchanan.
May 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Jason McPherson from MSD Engineering to talk about some of these new technology tools.
April 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Dave Perry, a lawyer in Colorado discussing what fire chiefs, fire investigators, and the legal system are seeing in a state with legalized cannabis in regard to fire cause involving marijuana.
February 2015 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Feb '15 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's Arson Investigator podcast from IAAI & CFITrainer interviews Mike Schlatman and Steve Carman who are both successful fire investigators and now business owners who have transitioned from the public to the private sector.
December 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews Steve Avato from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives explaining the process of elimination and how it is a critical part of the scientific method.
June 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews the 2014 Investigator of the Year.
April 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast interviews with Don Robinson, Special Agent in Charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Currently stationed at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research, located at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
January 2014 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '14 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast takes a look inside the process of revising NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033.
October 2013 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '13 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast focuses on the fire research work of Underwriters’ Laboratories, better known as UL.
February 2013 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '13 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month we have an interview with George Codding who returned from a recent trip to Saipan and gives us a closer look at the international activities of the International Association of Arson Investigators
Mid Year 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Mid Year '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast features a mid-year update on the IAAI’s new initiatives and ways for you to get more involved with the organization.
September 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an in-depth look at the recent live-burn fire experiments exercise conducted on Governor’s Island, New York by the New York City Fire Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Underwriters Laboratory, and the Trust for Governor’s Island.
August 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This is a special edition of the CFITrainer.Net podcast previewing the ITC 2013. There’s a new name for the Annual Training Conference from the IAAI now called the International Training conference.
April 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Chief Ernest Mitchell, Jr., the US Fire Administrator. Also we will discuss the upcoming ATC, Annual Training Conference, from the IAAI about to happen in Dover, Delaware.
March 2012 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '12 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with ATF Special Agent Billy Malagassi out of the Tulsa, OK Field Office about investigating fires in clandestine drug labs. We also report on NIST’s findings in the Charleston Sofa Super Store fire and IAAI’s Evidence Collection Practicum.
December 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features one of the presenters from this year’s IAAI ATC and see how a single photo broke the Provo Tabernacle fire case.
October 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Deborah Nietch, the new Executive Director of IAAI.
July 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features an interview with Tom Fee discussing details of investigating wildland fires.
June 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month's podcast features a lot of exciting things that are happening at CFITrainer.Net
May 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month highlights the IAAI ATC in Las Vegas and the third installment in the "It Could Happen to You" series.
ATC 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - This podcast discusses the upcoming IAAI Annual Training Conference and National Arson Awareness Week.
April 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast announces the release of the program, The First Responder’s Role in Fire Investigation, which teaches first responders how to make critical observations and take important scene preservation actions at a fire scene.
March 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features some of the instructors from the upcoming 2011 Annual Training Conference, to provide a preview of the courses they will be presenting.
February 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features an update on fire grants and an interview with Steve Austin
January 2011 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '11 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the release of the new edition of Fire Investigator: Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033, new flammability requirements from UL for pre-lit artificial Christmas trees and a growing fire problem in Dubai with factories turned into worker dormitories.
December 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on home candle fires, lightning punctures in gas piping, and respiratory diseases in the fire services.
November 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - November '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features research findings for structural stability in engineered lumber by UL, the ban on antifreeze in residential sprinkler systems, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation of Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tanks.
October 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features high-profile fire cases, why people leave stovetop cooking unattended and how new sensors under development may improve fire research.
September 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features how to use the ATF’s Bomb Arson Tracking System, IAAI Foundation grants, electrical fires and indoor marijuana cultivation.
August 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on social media as a fire investigation tool, a potential problem with modular home glued ceilings and research from Underwriters Laboratories on the effects of ventilation on structure fires.
July 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast is a roundtable on some of the latest research and technical activities that impact fire investigation, featuring Daniel Madrzykowski (moderator), Steven Kerber, and Dr. Fred Mowrer.
June 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast discusses career advancement, budget cuts and their impact on fire investigation, and the 2010-2016 ATF Strategic Plan.
ATC 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - Follow-up and Interviews from Orlando. Learn about the conference, hear what attendees had to say.
May 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. The second in our safety series called "It Could Happen To You." Our Long-Term Exposure roundtable is moderated by Robert Schaal.
April 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. The first of our two-part safety series called "It Could Happen To You." Our roundtable is moderated by Robert Schaal.
March 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features a conversation about legislative affairs affecting the fire service with Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Research Institute.
February 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - February '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features our interview with a commercial kitchen’s fire expert about what you need to know when you work a commercial kitchen fire.
January 2010 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '10 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features a look at preliminary research on corrosion caused by Chinese drywall, a new database focused on fires in historic buildings, a warning on blown-in insulation, and the launch of the new web site.
December 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features cooking fires, highlights of the International Code Council’s Annual Meeting on code requirements, including requiring residential sprinkler systems, and an easy way to keep up with recalls from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
November 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - November '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features chimney fires, including recent news on surgical flash fires, a proposed national arsonist registry, lightning research and an innovation in personal protective equipment.
October 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - October '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast is devoted to Fire Prevention Week.
September 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - September '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the relationship between climate conditions and fire risk, new research on formulating fireproof walls and the latest in IAAI news.
August 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - August '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month takes a look at the dangerous combination of summer heat and oily rags, the rise in vacant home fires, and preview research underway on Australia’s devastating "Black Saturday" brush fires.
July 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - July '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month features a look at outdoor grill fires, a fatal fire at a homeless camp in Southern NJ, new NIST research on human behavior during building fires, and IAAI news.
June 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - June '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features live reports from the 2009 IAAI Annual Training Conference held in May.
May 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - May '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This podcast is dedicated to National Arson Awareness Week.
April 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - April '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features the NFPA 921 chapter on marine fire investigations and the myth and reality of static electricity as a source of ignition.
March 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - March '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month focuses on the rise of the hybrid vehicle and what its unique engineering means for the investigation of vehicle fires, the rash of devastating arson fires in Coatesville, Pennsylvania from December 2008 to February 2009, and news from IAAI.
January 2009 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - January '09 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast focuses on the deepening financial crisis in the US and arson for profit fires, how going green may pose a fire hazard and see how rope lighting may be a source of ignition, and IAAI’s Expert Witness Courtroom Testimony course.
December 2008 CFITrainer.Net Podcast - December '08 IAAI & CFITrainer Fire Investigator Podcasts. This month’s podcast features Christmas tree fires, changes to critical fire investigation publications, the weak economy’s impact on home fires, wind’s effect on structure fires, and ATC 2009.