Austin, Steve. Investigators on the Firing Line. Fire Chief. Vol. 40
No. 7 (July 1996), pp.44-47.
Abstract: Fire investigators face a unique competency challenge.
How many other professionals must testify under oath as to how they reached
their conclusions? Mistakes can have serious results. Therefore, the competency
and training of investigators falls under scrutiny. This article explores
the possibility that NFPA 1033 may be a useful tool in aiding chief investigators
as they determine what level of competency their staffs require to perform
The NFPA 1033 provides the job performance requirements that meet the
minimum standards for a fire investigator. It can also be used for performance
evaluation, improving the professionalism of the unit and aiding in identifying
court experts. It was developed by experts in the field.
When the NFPA 1033 is to be used in a department, personnel need to be
trained to meet the standard. Therefore, educational opportunities must
be examined. Related questions include: Who will perform the training? Will
the training follow Job Performance Requirements (JPRs)? Will the training
reference NFPA 921? Will the training be tested? Do existing courses and
seminars prepare investigators to meet the standard?
The National Fire Academy's use of its resources to provide basic training
instead of advanced courses is also questioned. The traditional NFA two-week
course might not be as readily available in the future.
Alternative approaches to education are considered, including community
college and distance learning as well as interactive video training. Private
firms are offering courses that might meet the needs of higher standards
and lower budgets.
The author submits that the NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033 are two of the most
important documents in the system and calls on the entire community to submit
proposals and comments to improve them. He also suggests using NFPA 1033
as the basis for training.
For more information, contact:
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Chicago, IL 60601-2198
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