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Team leader training for fire investigators
During the week of Monday 26 June to Friday 30 June 2017, 12 experienced CFA fire investigators attended the Fire Investigation Team Leader course held in Shepparton.
The Fire Investigation Team Leader course provides additional specialist and technical knowledge and practical skills in the areas of:
- Fire Investigation Legislation, Policy & Procedures
- Multi agency approach to Fire Investigation
- Role of the Fire Investigation Team Leader
- Evidence Preservation and Collection
- Technology and Fire Investigation
- Report Writing for Fire Investigators
- Investigation of Major Fire Scenes
- Lead and Manage Fire Investigation Team
- Appearing and presenting evidence as a witness at a Court of Law
- Canvassing of witnesses and Interview Techniques
As part of the course, the participants were involved in a number of fire investigation scenarios based on real-life fire investigations. The scenarios involved the participants leading and managing a fire investigation team to successfully manage the investigation of the fire scene.
A representative from the CFA Legal Services Team attended and provided an overview of the Victorian legal system along with the support arrangements available to CFA members who've been called as a witness in either a coronial, criminal or civil court case.
The participants attended a 'moot court' in one of the court rooms at the Shepparton Court Complex to present evidence in relation to a fire they had investigated and the fire investigation report they had completed.
As part of the practical component of the course, each fire investigator was called as a witness where they were sworn into court to present their evidence. Two members from Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad acted as the prosecutor and defence counsel for the court case, with the CFA Legal Services member performing the role of the judge. This provided the participants with an insight into the type of questions they may face when called as a witness to present evidence at a court case.
Participants also had the opportunity to tour the different court rooms in the complex including the Magistrates Court and County Court.
The detectives from the Victoria Police Arson & Explosives Squad also presented a valuable session about canvassing witnesses and techniques associated with interviewing witnesses at fire scenes.
The participants were also taught the importance of the correct procedures relating to evidence collection and report writing. Both of these skills are critical components to ensure that the fire investigation is conducted in accordance with legislative requirements.
The role of the fire investigation team leader at major fires was also presented. A number of case studies relating to major structure and bushfires were presented throughout the course to emphasise key lessons learned.
A case study about the coordination of the fire investigations into the 2009 fires was also presented. This particular case study was used to illustrate the critical components of how to set up and manage major fire scenes and fire investigation teams from a statewide perspective.
On the final day of the course, participants presented their project work case studies to demonstrate how they would manage a major fire scene. This involved the participants determining what resources and equipment they would require, what agencies would be involved, what tasks would be allocated to the fire investigators involved in the team and how the fire investigation would be conducted.
Feedback from participants who attended the course showed that participants had received relevant and practical information and skills to assist them in the roles of fire investigators and fire investigation team leaders in the future.
This specialised training course also provided the participants the opportunity to work towards completing specific training units associated with the Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Fire Investigation) qualification that the CFA Fire Investigation Section is delivering as part of the ongoing professional development opportunities available for fire investigators.
State Fire Investigation Coordinator Nicole Harvey