STOW - State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director David C. Evans have announced that 23 public safety officials completed the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s six-day “Advanced Fire Investigation” course on Friday, May 30, including Wareham Fire Dept. Lt. Christopher Smith.
This rigorous professional training provides public safety professionals with the advanced skills to accurately determine the origin and cause of fires in their jurisdictions and together, build solid, prosecutable cases, according to a press release.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “The team concept of fire investigation has been used successfully in Massachusetts for over 20 years and it starts with joint training.” He added, “When police and fire are trained in the same techniques and procedures together, the consistency leads to accurate origin and cause determinations, and when arson is the cause, solid criminal cases.”
Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Evans said, “This course provides students with fire scene experience from investigation through courtroom testimony. They are exposed to the investigatory process as outlined in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations.”
The 23 graduates, including one local police officer, 17 firefighters, four State Police troopers and one DFS code compliance officer, represent the following agencies: Ashland Fire Department, DFS-Fire Safety, Dunstable Fire Department, Falmouth Fire Department, Gloucester Fire Department, Haverhill Fire Department, Lynn Fire Department, Mass. State Police, New Bedford Fire Department, Northampton Fire Department, Peabody Fire Department, Salem Fire Department, Somerville Fire Department, Springfield Fire Department, Waltham Fire Department, Wareham Fire Department, Westborough Fire Department, Westfield Police Department, Weymouth Fire Department.
The six-day advanced fire investigation course covers the concepts of fire behavior, scene examination, fire scene documentation, evidence collection, witness interviewing, and management of major fire investigations in more depth than the basic fire investigation class. It also addresses the legal issues of managing fire scenes, evidence collection, and concludes with practical exercises of interviewing witnesses and participating in the courtroom process. Students research and present case briefs on landmark fire investigation cases and scholarly publications. They work with actual assistant district attorneys to prepare their legal cases and participate in a mock trial. The program covers unintentional fires, intentionally set fires, and fatal fires.