Fire Investigators Anonymous

Michael L. Donahue outlines a 12-step program for improving the health and safety of fire investigators working amid potential hazards. The safety and health of fire investigators working at fire scenes are often taken for granted, since many incorrectly...


Michael L. Donahue outlines a 12-step program for improving the health and safety of fire investigators working amid potential hazards. The safety and health of fire investigators working at fire scenes are often taken for granted, since many incorrectly assume that by the time they arrive at a...


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Investigators should keep in mind that the potential for serious injury exists at any time, and they should not become complacent or take unnecessary risks that compromise their health and safety. However, it is the responsibility of the investigator's organization to establish adequate safety and health policies, procedures and programs such as the 12-step program to ensure the safest possible working environment and reduce the incidence of occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

Additional health-related information on the hazards and short- and long-term health effects associated with fire scene investigation can be obtained at www.firescenesafety.com. USFA Offers Web-Based Training on Lightweight Building Construction.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA,) has released a comprehensive web-based educational program developed to enhance firefighter awareness of the performance of different forms of lightweight construction components during fires to create a safer operational environment for the fire service. These components include trusses, glue laminated beams, I-joists, structural composite lumber and wood structural panels. Included in this program is FireFrame, an interactive tool on building construction for the fire service. The program was developed with the assistance of several state and local fire training systems.

Further information on this program may be found under the Research section of the USFA web site, www.usfa.dhs.gov and at www.woodaware.info.

>MICHAEL L. DONAHUE is an International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) and a nationally certified hazardous materials technician. He has over 20 years of experience in fire investigation, law enforcement, and occupational safety and health. Donahue is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College in Rockville, MD, where he teaches courses in fire and arson investigation. He is the author of Safety and Health Guidelines for Fire and Explosion Investigators, published by the International Fire Service Training Association/Fire Protection Publications. Donahue holds a bachelor of science degree in fire and arson investigation from the University of Maryland.