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Approaching arson investigations armed with facts, science and a computer. Firehouse. Vol. 19 No. 2 (February 1994), p 50-52.

Abstract: This article discusses how the certified fire investigators (CFI's) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) use computer models to help in their investigations.

ATF's CFI's must go through several weeks of initial training, and then ongoing training to maintain their certification. Several professors from the University of Maryland are involved in teaching these programs. As part of this training the CFI's are taught how to use computer models as another tool when conducting cause and origin determination.

Dr. Quintere, one of the professors involved, stresses that the computer models are tools and are not necessarily the definitive solution. However, there have been several cases where the answers provided by a computer model were successful in overcoming the defense's arguments and winning the case.

ATF began using the computer modeling programs following the Dupont Hotel fire in Puerto Rico in 1987. Dr. Quintere and Bud Nelson, both with the National Institute of Technology (NIST) at the time were working on the scene developing computer models of the fire. They were working closely with ATF during the incident, and both organizations realized how computer models could be a valuable asset.

For more information, contact:
Firehouse
PTN Publishing Corporation
445 Broad Hollow Road, Ste 21
Melville, NY 11747
Phone: (516) 845-2700

 
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