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State Fire Investigation Forum
Over 70 fire investigators, fire investigation team leaders and district fire investigation coordinators from across the state attended the State Fire Investigation Forum at FiskvilleTraining College on Sunday 28 July 2013.
The purpose of the forum was to provide fire investigators, fire investigation team leaders and district fire investigation coordinators with an update on CFA's Fire Investigation Program. It was also an opportunity to hear from a number of CFA and external agency guest speakers on topics relating to fire and explosion investigation in Victoria.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson attended and opened the forum. As part of the opening address, Euan reinforced the importance of fire investigation in CFA, along with fully supporting the program.
He advised that there has been an increased focus on the outcomes from conducting fire investigations and "fire investigation holds an important part in our craft of understanding fire and fire management.”
Euan also said that “fire Investigation has a direct link to fire prevention and has potential to inform future direction of our activities.
“Fire Investigators need to be at the apex of understanding fire behaviour, fire science and application and interpretation of fires.”
Deputy Chief Officer John Haynes presented CFA's Fire Investigation Program Capability Model. This report has been prepared to outline the current work loads being experienced by the program, along with proposing a strategy and future direction. This is to enable the Fire Investigation Program to be effectively delivered at district, region and state levels.
Following this section of the forum, a question and answer session was held with a panel consisting of Euan Ferguson, John Haynes, Operations Manager Kevin Pettit and State Fire Investigation Coordinator Nicole Harvey.
The members present had the opportunity to ask questions or raise matters they had relating to the Fire Investigation Program. It also generated discussion relating to the current work loads within districts, fire investigations being undertaken, resources and time requirements associated with the significant and major fire scenes, court appearance requirements and the future direction of the program in CFA.
Nicole Harvey gave a presentation called “The Achievements of the CFA Fire Investigation Program”. This presentation highlighted the scenes fire investigators had attended, ranging from significant structure fires, grass fires and bushfires where fire investigators were able to investigate the origin, cause, path and impact of the fires.
A number of the fire investigations have resulted in successful outcomes, such as national product safety recalls for particular electrical appliances.
An overview of the projects underway about suspicious fires “Hot Spot” maps and the research into residential fire fatalities were also discussed.
An update on the work that had been undertaken by the Fire Investigation Course Reference Group on the new and improved Fire Investigation Course Pathway was also presented. The Reference Group has ensured that the various fire investigation training courses undertaken in CFA align with the Advanced Diploma Public Safety (Fire Investigation) qualification.
In addition, the training opportunities that have been provided to fire investigators and district fire investigation coordinators over the past two years were highlighted. Fire investigators have had the opportunities to attend the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre – Fire & Explosives Investigations Unit for work placement. A number of fire investigators have also had the opportunity to attend the Victoria Police Bomb Scene Examination Courses and district fire investigation coordinators have attended the Victoria Police Detective Training School – Arson & Explosives Investigation Courses.
Detective Senior Sergeant Jeff Maher, Officer in Charge of the Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad, also attended the forum. As part of his presentation, Jeff provided the participants with an overview of the structure and the roles and responsibilities of the Arson & Explosives Squad. Details relating to the outcomes from the 2012-13 Fire Season from a Victoria Police perspective were also discussed.
The topic of 'Post Fire Atmospheric Contaminates and Fire Investigation' was also presented at the forum. CFA’s Scientific Officer Warren Glover and Senior Station Officer Rick Owen provided a comprehensive overview on the research into the field of atmospheric monitoring for fire investigators at scenes.
This presentation outlined the findings into the atmospheric monitoring and testing of the room burns that were conducted over the last twleve months as part of the Structural Fire Investigation Course and Structural Fire Investigation Skills Maintenance Courses. This work has been undertaken in conjunction with a Research Scientist from the CSIRO and the results will be implemented back into the safety considerations for fire investigators when attending fire scenes.
Based on the feedback received from the people who attended the forum, it is envisaged that the State Fire Investigation Forum will be conducted on an annual basis to enable professional development opportunities for CFA fire investigators, fire investigation team leaders and district fire investigation coordinators.
State Fire Investigation Coordinator Nicole Harvey