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Courts examine the “negative corpus” amendments to NFPA 921 and process of elimination in considering the admissibility of fire experts’ opinions

 “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

For many years, it was accepted practice for a fire investigator, having eliminated accidental or natural causes of a fire, to conclude, without specific physical evidence, that the fire must have been caused by human agency, i.e., arson.  In product liability cases, investigators would conclude that an appliance must have been defective, as no other cause of fire could be identified.  Courts routinely accepted such opinion evidence in criminal and civil cases. This method of fire cause determination was referred to as “negative corpus” because it was akin to a conclusion that murder had occurred even though no body had been found.

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From Out of the Abyss...

This week’s article from the past is titled Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted and was written by Benjamin Horton, CPCU, who was President of the National Adjuster Traing School in Louisville, Kentucky..  It is taken from the Decembe 1968 Vol. XVI No.5 issue.

Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted 

In the new issue of NFPA Journal®, President Jim Shannon said the Association will focus on the leading causes of home fires, including cooking. "We also need to continue to push hard for home fire sprinklers. That's still a large priority for NFPA, and we plan to work very aggressively in 2014 on our residential sprinkler initiative," he said.

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NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

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SAN DIEGO - A Team 10 and Scripps News investigation found arson fires are not investigated properly in many American cities -- including San Diego -- due to a chaotic patchwork of reporting systems and standards.

Many deliberately set building fires are not reported to the federal government.

Nationally, just 5 percent of all residential building fires are intentionally set, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.  Data collected by Scripps News suggests the national arson rate to be significantly higher.

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White Paper

Study by: Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid KemalExponent, Inc. USAMichael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas SkowronskiNorthern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USAEric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. HaddenSchool of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid Kemal Exponent, Inc. USA Michael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas Skowronski Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USA Eric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. Hadden School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

ABSTRACT

Two experimental fires, with contrasting intensities, were conducted in March 2016, in the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) of New Jersey, United States in order to provide a preliminary assessment of the reliability of the fire direction indicators used in wildland fire investigation.  The experiments were part of a larger project intended to measure firebrand production in a forested ecosystem.  As part of this project, fire behavior, as well as the environmental and fuel conditions were also measured.  Two burn parcels, covering an area of approximately 30 hectares each, were ignited from unimproved forest roads which delimited them.  The forest canopy was comprised primarily of pitch pine with intermittent oaks.  The understory contained a mixed shrub layer of huckleberry, blueberry, and scrub oaks. In order to explore a wide range of indicators, objects such as bottles, cans and small fence elements were planted in the burn area, and photographed before and after the fire.  To obtain an accurate measure of pre- and post-fire fuel properties, fuel load, fuel bulk density, and fuel moisture content were also measured. In addition, environmental data (wind velocity and direction, air temperature and humidity) were recorded.  The fire behavior can be reconstructed using measurements of fire rate of spread, fire front temperatures, fire front geometry, and heat fluxes.  Video and infrared cameras were used to document the general fire behavior in selected locations.  This paper represents the first step in the analysis of the fire indicators and focuses on the more intense of the two burns and on the appearance of the macro- and microscale fire pattern indicators.  A majority of the indicators were assessed, although the configuration of the burn parcels, the ignition technique, and precipitation immediately following the fires limited a full study.  The results show that some fire direction indicators are highly dependent on local fire conditions and fire behavior and may be in contradiction with the general spread of the fire.  Overall, this study demonstrates that fire pattern indicators are a useful tool but must be interpreted in the frame of a general analysis of the fire, combined with a good understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics.

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Seminar Dates for 2018 and 2019

March 5-8, 2018  &  September 24-27, 2018

February 25-28, 2019  &  September 23-26, 2019

Outfitting Your Smartphone for Fire Investigations

by:

Cathleen E. Corbitt-Dipierro

Stonehouse Media Incorporated

www.interfire.org

Smartphones are quickly taking over the US cellular phone hardware market — iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, Palm, just to name a few brands.  With their advanced computing capability, smartphones are enabling users to perform more and more tasks on their phone than just the simple calling and texting.  This computing power is harnessed by “apps,” which are application software programs used on smartphones.


For the fire investigator, the smartphone can become a handy tool in your daily work, but only if you know how to outfit it.  This article highlights some of the core apps that fire investigators can use every day to assist in managing their investigative and administrative work.  One caution before we begin: the investigator should be aware that any investigative information kept on your smartphone is not secure and also may be discoverable in a future legal proceeding.  For that reason, we’ve confined the discussion of apps in this article to those where case-based investigative information is not stored or shared.  At all times, exercise the utmost caution with investigative information.

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Man sets fire to house drying shorts, socks in microwave

We’ve all had days when inclement weather, a busted clothes dryer or a fiendish combination of the two has us scrambling to dry our under-things for that hot date or big job interview. A man in Weymouth, Utah had probably thought he’d found the ideal solution when he thought to dry his two pairs of shorts and socks in his microwave. That is, until he had to be rescued from the fire in his apartment. Neighbors led him to safety after they heard a smoke alarm go off and firefighters quickly put out the fire. All clothing items were destroyed. "The fire safety message here is to never put clothing of any kind in the microwave or an oven to attempt to dry them," said a spokesperson for Dorset fire and rescue.

A Basic Premise - People Lie

by Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia (Third Degree Communications)

It is a basic human instinct to lie to avoid consequences. We discover this around 3 years of age and it develops and spirals out of control from then on. Some people are really good liars and others not so much. But the one constant is that everybody does it to some extent. For those of you in the law enforcement community, we're not telling you anything you don't already know. For cops, getting lied to is a daily occurrence.

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Passing of Kyle Price

Kyle-Price_webMy wife and I can not begin to thank you enough for the prayers, thoughts and support that you have extended to us during our time of loss.  For those of you who did not know our son Kyle, you will never know what a GREAT person he was, but we cherish your heartfelt thoughts for us.  For those of you who did know him, we know that you will miss him as well as we do.  It's soo... hard to loose someone who has been a BIG part of your life, especially when it's your child.  We know that our faith and belief in God will get us through these hard times.  Please take / MAKE time to Love, embrace and appreciate your family and friends.  Life is too short and can be taken away so suddenly as evident in the recent Aurora, Co. event.

Services for Kyle will be held on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Location: "The Rock" Church
101 E. Orangethorpe
Anaheim, Ca.

Viewing: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Celebration of Life: 1:00 pm


Thank You,
The Price Family

In lieu of flowers, donation can be made in the name of Kyle Price to:

JJCCC*
2801 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, California 90806
(*Jonathan Jaques Childrens Cancer Center)

Bathroom Ceiling Exhaust Fans

Risk Control
Bathroom Ceiling Exhaust Fans
Introduction
This document provides information concerning ceiling mounted bathroom exhaust fans, used in residential, as well as industrial/commercial facilities, and provides guidance for facilities where these types of fans are present. It will help to familiarize the reader with the potential fire hazards associated with this type of fan.

Risk Control

Bathroom Ceiling Exhaust Fans

Introduction
This document provides information concerning ceiling mounted bathroom exhaust fans, used in residential, as well as industrial/commercial facilities, and provides guidance for facilities where these types of fans are present. It will help to familiarize the reader with the potential fire hazards associated with this type of fan.

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