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Fire Investigator training
Nine CFA personnel have recently completed the Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Course at the CFA’s State Training College at Fiskville.
Over the last two years, the CFA Fire Investigation Course Reference Group has reviewed the course content and delivery methods for the Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Course.
Feedback from previous course participants, guest instructors and assessors who attended the Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Courses over the years was also included as part of the review.
As a result of this review, the course is now delivered in three parts. This enables the course participants to attend a number of fire scenes under a mentor program in between the course requirements to reinforce the key learnings.
This year’s Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Course was held on the following dates:
Part 1: Introduction to Fire Investigation: 15 & 16 March 2014 (2 days)
Part 2: Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation: 13–17 April 2014 (5 days)
Part 3: Assessment (Theory & Practical): 10 & 11 June 2014 (2 days)
The main objectives were to provide the participants with:
- Greater practical training with additional structural room burns and vehicle fires included as part of the syllabus
- More flexible training delivery options
- Improved training materials
- Obtaining key learnings from “real life” fire investigation case studies and
- Greater practical skills and knowledge in the field of fire investigation to assist the personnel in their new role as Fire Investigators
The CFA’s Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Courses are highly regarded due to the practical component. By undertaking the practical component of the course in conjunction with the theory-based subjects, it ensures the participants have the required knowledge and skills to undertake fire investigation and determine the origin and causes of fires.
The following provides an overview of the subjects that were covered as part of the Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation Course:
Part 1 – Introduction to Fire Investigation
- Introduction to the CFA Fire Investigation Program
- Science of Fire Investigation
- Fire Dynamics – Room Burns
- Fire Scene Safety for Fire Investigators
- Investigation Preparation
- Initial Actions at the Fire Scene and Practical Application
- Introduction to Legal Requirements
Part 2 – Structural & Vehicle Fire Investigation
- Structural Fire Investigation
- Arson & Incendiary Fires
- Structural Fire Investigation – Room Burns and Practical Scene Indicators
- Building Collapse
- Vehicle Fires
- Role of the Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad
- Canvassing witnesses
- Explosives and Explosions
- Incendiary Devices
- Electrical Related Fires
- Gas Related Fires
- Fire Scene Photography
- Accidental Fires
- Role of Forensic Science in Fire Investigation
- Evidence Collection
- Fatal Fires
- Recording the Scene
- Fire Investigation Management System (FIMS)
- Post Fire Investigation Scene Requirements
Part 3 - Assessment
- Case Study Presentation
- Practical Fire Scene Investigation
Throughout the course, guest instructors such as experienced CFA Fire Investigators, representatives from the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre – Fire & Explosion Investigation Section and detectives from the Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad attended the course.
As part of the practical assessment for the course, a number of scenarios based on “real life” fire scene investigations were set up in the purpose built Fire Investigation Rooms at Fiskville. Each tilt slab room was fitted out with plastered walls, carpet, windows, fittings and fixtures. The rooms were also fully furnished with a variety of pieces of furniture, appliances and items that would be consistent with rooms such as an office, lounge room and bedroom.
Each room was filmed before the ignition of the fires to record what the rooms looked like and the placement of furnishings and items prior to the fires occurring. The rooms were then filmed from the ignition of the fire through to the different stages of fire development and finally to the extinguishment of the fire.
The course participants were divided into three Fire Investigation Teams. They were required to investigate the fire scene to establish the origin and cause of the fire, using the techniques and principles they had been taught during the course.
To ensure the scenes are as realistic as possible, the teams were provided a number of witnesses during the course of their investigation. Witnesses included the Incident Controller and/or first Fire-fighter on scene, Police Officers, the owner / occupier of the property, business owner, neighbours, etc.
Following the completion of the investigation, the Fire Investigation Teams were required to prepare a report outlining their findings into the origin and cause of the fire and present this to the class.
Once each of the Fire Investigation Teams had completed their presentations, the footage of each room scenario was shown, including how the fires were ignited and the fire development.
State Fire Investigation Coordinator Nicole Harvey