WASHINGTON – A web site supported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received a record 28,215 visitors in November 2003, more than in any month since the site appeared in 2000.
The number of visitors to the site, www.interfire.org, was up 14 percent since October and 22 percent since November 2002, attesting to the growing popularity of the site among fire investigators, researchers and students.
The web site began life as a reference section within a virtual reality training CD-Rom for law enforcement, insurance and fire investigators. ATF, the American Re-Insurance Co., U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association provided the content expertise for the CD, which was released in 2000. ATF later decided to expand and fund the collaborative project as an Internet site; Stonehouse Media, Inc., designed and maintains the web site.
“Interfire.org has really taken off and evolved into a virtual library for a wide audience of fire investigators, researchers and students,” said Lewis P. Raden, assistant director of ATF’s Office of Firearms, Arson and Explosives. “People are finding it, coming back, navigating, signing up for alerts and hopefully learning.”
The web site bills itself as the “complete resource for fire services, fire insurers, law enforcement and others whose duties involve arson investigation, fire investigation safety and fire scene training.”
It includes an online training center where, with the click of a computer mouse button, visitors can travel down a charred hallway, turn into a room and zoom in for a better look at a burned out electrical socket. The site also features articles of interest, a message board and information on insurance.
There is a calendar of fire investigation training programs covering topics from arson awareness to fire insurance fraud and fire codes and standards.
The Resource Center covers fire investigation from before a fire through to follow up and legal preparation. Visitors can access fire investigation materials that include arson investigation abstracts, articles and tutorials, U.S. Fire Administration technical reports, fire investigation links and more.
Interfire.org is another tool ATF provides to help fire investigators and researchers expand their knowledge. In November, ATF launched the Bomb and Arson Tracking System (BATS), an Internet-accessible system that will allow state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies to share information about bomb and arson cases and incidents.
ATF’s Arson and Explosives National Repository, which Congress has entrusted with maintaining all national information on explosives incidents and arson, developed and maintains BATS. Law enforcement agencies interested in participating in BATS should contact the National Repository at 1-800-461-8841.
More information on ATF can be found at www.atf.gov and on the National Repository at www.atf.gov/aexis2/index.htm.