Today, more and more persons and organizations are demanding fire investigation reports and or results. Two of the most frequent questions asked of the Jamaica Fire Brigade are: Has fire brigade determined how the fire began? Was there foul play involved? Data obtained from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Fire Prevention Division Headquarters revealed that a total of six thousand, six hundred and thirty-four (6,634) genuine fires were received and responded to by the fire brigade during the last fiscal year.
However, a total of four thousand six hundred and eighty-three (4,683) are left undetermined, these undetermined fires accounted for approximately seventy-one (71) percent of the total number of genuine calls over the period.
According to Fire Chief of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Commissioner, Mr. Stewart Beckford, “one of the most critical issues facing the Jamaica Fire Brigade at this time is the absence of well-trained and certified Fire Investigators. This results in the Fire Brigade being unable to ascertain the root cause of most fires and finding it difficult at times to craft and execute more meaningful Fire Prevention Strategies.
” The Commissioner also stated that “Although, there are some levels of fire investigation now being conducted; which mostly begins with the officer in charge of a fire scene. However, some key factors and or underlining principles (such as technical writing, scientific, legal and legislative etc.) are associated with the process. Keep in mind, also that there are times when fire investigators are required to testify at preliminary hearings”. In addition to that, the government has allocated some fund in this year’s budget towards in-service and officers development training.
Therefore, one of the main objectives of the fire brigade is to embark on Fire Investigation Training. This is scheduled to start during the third quarter of this operation year. It is evident that the Jamaica Fire Brigade with its uniqueness of service and young trainable workforce will be able to select and trained all levels of skilled and qualified Fire Investigators. Various means of training delivery may be explored.
There are a number of international public and private institutions that offer training in Fire investigation, varying from an ordinary certificate to an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fire Science Technology. Sources such as the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI); Federal Bureau of Investigation; The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and FEMA all operate advance training in Fire Investigations. While in Jamaica the Mona Campus, Of the UWI is now offering some form of fire investigation training and are exploring the opportunity of setting up a Fire science Lab on the Campus. An example of a formal training course in fire investigation offered by the IAAI consist of classroom instruction, fieldwork, and research opportunities. The curriculum includes but not limited to areas of fire physics, research tools and data-keeping software, interrogation techniques, arson behaviour, psychology, evidence gathering and labelling, fire protection, hazardous materials, forensic documentation methodology, courtroom protocol, and public service ethics. Fire investigators can also participate in other specific fire science training.
These training may be conducted locally, overseas or online:
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