Fire Scene Preservation & Investigation Basics
R.A. John McDERMOTT, IAAI-FIT, MIAAI, SCO (Fire) Fire Chief, Big Lakes County Fire Services
Aside from situational awareness, on-going hazard assessments and tactical priorities, what should you be aware of while fighting a fire? Is there something that stands out to you as odd? Is something out of place? Is there something familiar about this fire that you think you may have seen on another fire? If it doesn’t need to be disturbed, destroyed further or removed, should you take the liberty of doing so? What happens after “Loss Stop” has been called and the Fire Investigator begins their scene examination?
In this program, session participants will have open discussion on these and more in addition to walking through compartments before and after they’ve been burned. By the end of this training session, you’ll have a better understanding of why these questions and more are important from a Fire Investigator’s perspective and how even the most junior firefighter on your crew can assist in the investigation.
John McDermott began his career in fire services in January of 2000 in Slave Lake, Alberta. Beginning as a firefighter with the (now) Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service, John progressed in his training and education achieving international certification as a professional Firefighter, HAZMAT Operator, Incident Safety Officer and Fire Investigator, to name only a few. John began gaining experience in investigations in 2007 and transitioned from a volunteer position to a career position in the Fire Service in 2009. John has been certified as a Fire Investigation Technician by the IAAI in December 2013 and has investigated general fires, vehicle fires, arsons, explosions, fire deaths and wildfires. He also has extensive experience in ITO/Warrant writing in Alberta under the Safety Codes Act. John has been qualified as an expert witness in 13 different areas in fire, arson and explosion investigation where his opinion evidence has been presented and accepted in both Provincial and Court of Queen’s Bench court levels. John is published as a contributing author in “Fire Investigator: Principals and Practices to NFPA 921 and 1033, Fifth Edition”. He serves the FIAA as President (2017-2019). He is an active member of the IAAI and sits as the IAAI Career Path Committee Chair, the IAAI’s Training & Education Committee’s Chair of the Non-U.S. Outreach Sub-Committee, Co-Chair of the IAAI International Training Conference and member of the IAAI Curriculum Development Sub-Committee.
John currently serves the residents and visitors as Fire Chief for Big Lakes County, located along the Lesser Slave Lake in Northwest Alberta where he lives with his wife Marcia and their children.