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Fire Expert – “Evidence – Handle With Care”

“Spoliation of evidence” as defined in the National Fire Protection’s Guide to Fire and Explosion Investigations (NFPA 921), is “the loss, destruction, or material alteration of an object or document that is evidence or potential evidence in a legal proceeding by one who has the responsibility for its preservation.” “Spoliation” may occur when evidence is…

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Fire Fatalities (Part 4) “Notification and the Responsibitlity of Fire Suppression Crews”

Notification Due to legal and procedural requirements, some of the initial considerations that should be made by the lead investigator prior to conducting the physical inspection of the fire scene is first notifying appropriate authorities.  This may include the local police department, coroner’s office, medical examiner and the forensic lab.  Failing to address this important…

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Fire Fatalities (Part 3) “The Team”

A quality investigation cannot be conducted without first establishing an “Investigation Team”. The team may be comprised of firefighters, fire investigators, police officers, detectives, state and federal investigators or other forensic experts to collectively develop a plan of action. As one who has been fortunate enough to work alongside incredible talent in the fire investigation…

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Fire Fatalities (Part 2) “Planning the Investigation”

The investigating officer must consider a number of things prior to beginning a fatality fire investigation.  It is critical to the investigation that ample time is afforded to the “pre-planning” process to insure that the investigation is conducted in a timely and efficient manner. Over the years I have found that the first and foremost…

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Fire Fatality Investigations – Staying Focused (Part 1)

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s “United States Fire Loss Report for 2011”, U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated 1,389,500 fires which resulted in 3,005 civilian deaths.   That equates to one civilian death every 3 1/2 hours.  Investigation of fire and explosion related deaths require careful planning, specialized training, skill and years of…

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The Risk and Liability Associated with Consumer Use of Fireworks

As a 26 year fire service veteran, 17 of which I served as a Fire Investigator and Fire Marshal, every 4th of July and the few days preceding, I have witnessed just about everything imaginable associated with consumer fireworks usage and firework related injuries. From imported “illegal” fireworks to the simple lack of parental supervision…

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Fire Expert – “Times Have Changed”

Robert L. Rowe, CFI/PI Pyrocop, Inc. The science of fire… Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Every time I tell someone about what it is I do for a living I pretty much get the same response. “Very interesting…So you do what Robert De Niro did in the movie “Backdraft”? For those of you who’ve seen the…

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Fire Code Experts

Need a little help with your fire code questions? Although there are a variety of fire and building codes and standards publications throughout the country with state and/or local adoptions, they essentially all address the same issues, fire and life safety. In many instances, a particular project, situation or product requiring review from the local…

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8 Things an Arsonist Should Know

1.) A fire investigator will be looking at your fire much closer than you think. With the guidance of NFPA 921, fire investigators now conduct their investigations systematically which involves the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data, through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of a hypothesis. 2.) A…

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The Fire Consultant and the Fire Code (Part 2)

So, as a business or property owner what are the ramifications of my failing to correct a fire code violation after the fire inspector leaves? In 2004, I was retained as a fire consultant by a prominent Los Angeles law firm to review a personal injury fire case involving the intentional burning of a single…

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