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Internet Resources for Arson Investigators

 

By:
David L. Ziegler
CFI, CFE
ziginv@home.com




This is what the Internet has come to, Britannica.com! What does this have to do with fire and arson investigations? How can this assist the fire and arson investigator in the performance of his or her job? The answer is that this is an example of both the present and the future of investigations of all kinds and holds out the greatest potential of real down to earth help for the futurist investigator.

 

I selected Britanica.com because it is a practical example of how quickly and how substantially the Internet is changing. Just a few years ago you would have paid thousands of dollars for a printed version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a few years after that the price for an "on line" subscription was also substantial. Now, the entire encyclopedia is free. This was such a hit with the public that the whole server system crashed and had to be replaced by the company.

One small example serves to illustrate the point. On the home page of Britannica (www.britannica.com) an investigator can use the search function to search the word, "pyrolysis." The results will include encyclopaedia entries, web sites that discuss both scientific and cojavascript:MMon uses of the term and even books and articles on the topic. This "One stop shopping" should answer your research questions and give you the ability to get more helpful information on any fire-related topic.

I would also like to note some arson related sites that not only serve as great research tools to add to your arsenal of investigative aides, but also have links to additional resources.

A great starting place for the arson investigator is the home page for the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), (www.fire-investigators.org.)

IAAI provides training information, an interactive bulletin board for issues and questions, links to other arson resources, links to state chapters and even free listings for members with their own web pages.

One of the latest tools to come on line is Interfire. Interfire is a cooperative training and educational effort sponsored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), (www.atf.gov) American Re-Insurance Company (www.amre.com,) The US Fire Administration (www.usfa.fema.gov) and the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org.) Check out www.interfire.org. In addition to its own message board, training calendar, and news on the use of the virtual reality fire training CD, they also publish fire and arson related articles and news.

FIREDOC is a web searchable resource of the database of publications in the Fire Research Information Service at the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the US National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST). This resource can be searched by subject, author or title for a vast library of fire related publications. They are located at http://fire.nist.gov/.

Firefindings is the web-based information site for Firefindings Newsletter, a publication that lists training and fire investigations updates. Use their resources at www.firefindings.com.

Fire investigators often need historical weather information to recreate the conditions at the time of a fire. The services of www.wunderground.com will let you check weather at any location and time.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) located at http://www.nfpa.org/Research/index.asp not only provides many fire and arson related services but also has their extensive library available to be researched by arson investigators. The Library of Congress has an on-line card catalog at http://catalog.loc.gov.

The larger global world of fire related sites presents more research, educational, and professional web locations that can both aid the professional fire investigator and develop professional and career interests.

The United States Fire Administration (www.usfa.fema.gov) lists training, position vacancies, statistical fire reports, motel/hotel safety lists, and arson prevention information.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Database (ATSDR) HazDat Database provides a searchable database of HazMat chemicals. The database can be found at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hazdat.asp. FireLinks is a site devoted to fire news, links to fire departments and issues of interest to the fire service.

Firehouse.com is the source for fire news as APBonline is for police and crime news. Located at www.firehouse.com they have all things fire related, including breaking news.

Those in the fire service with interest in fire departments on the web, fire service collectibles, photographs and videos of fires, and apparatus will find what they are seeking on the web.

Finding the right training in the right locations at the right price used to be problematic. Now you can search out www.policetraining.net for a complete calendar of fire related or investigative training.

The last web site I suggest is one to help any investigator do the job. Trying to locate someone or get a reverse telephone or address search? Visit www.freeality.com for a great site to start your search and the best part is that it's free!

I hope this brief article will help you in your work and in a small way will result in better and more efficient fire investigations.

 
 
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