top of page

74   ITC

International Training Conference & Expo



North Carolina

April 23-28 2023


Complex Fire Investigation with a Focus on Electrical Systems

Monday, April 24, 2023 (1:00pm - 5:00pm) (Event Center)

Internationally, complex fire investigations require today’s fire investigator to embrace scientific & engineering principles that are critical for a systematic and reliable fire investigation. A multidisciplinary team approach has been proven to be effective for complex fire origin and cause investigations. This fire investigation program will be based on topics related to fire dynamics, materials science and electrical distribution systems. Each topic will be discussed to provide an overview of what role, if any, each has in the fire investigation process.  Recognizing the interrelationship between these disciplines should assist the fire investigation team to develop reliable bases for hypotheses related to fire origin and cause determinations. Additionally, this program will explore and reveal, in part, recent electrical research related to utilizing the electrical distribution system for fire origin and cause determinations.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Outline recent changes related to fire investigation practices, including electrical safety.  

  2. Discuss NFPA 921 (current and past editions) and its role in complex fire investigations; including recent changes related to Arc Mapping. 

  3. Define Fire Dynamics and related scientific principles that are relevant to fire spread and subsequent damage. Examining the role of fire science in fire investigation process.  

  4. Discuss Electrical safety and electrical distribution systems and their role in fire investigation; including Arc Mapping / Arc Survey. 

  5. Explain Material Science principles and its role in fire investigation.  

  6. Define Materials evaluation/metallurgy practices and procedures that are used to evaluate melting events observed on fire damaged circuits of the electrical system.  

  7. Review, discuss and summarize recently completed electrical research illustrating a fire investigators ability to conduct electrical surveys and arcing fault evaluations; including recommendations moving the industry forward.  

  8. Review the importance of all available evidence, including physical evidence, in the public- and private-sector fire and explosion investigations, the experts’ consideration and reliance on it in developing reliable origin and cause hypotheses, the litigators’ use of it in theory development and case presentation, and the decision maker’s, i.e., the Court’s and/or the jury’s, evaluation of it at trial. 


Mark Svare

Mark is a licensed Master Electrician, and Professional Electrical Engineer who has been involved in Forensic Engineering since 1990. Mark conducted his doctoral research at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, school of science and engineering located at the University of Dundee, United Kingdom. He also has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (B.E.E.) degree from the University of Minnesota. He is also a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served as an Electronic Warfare Specialist on board the U.S.S. Briscoe DD977. While in the Navy, Mark served in regions such as South America, Europe, and Mediterranean Countries. Mark has taught numerous electrical courses for international, U.S. federal, state, local, and private organizations, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Advanced Fire Investigation program located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center – Brunswick, Georgia. Mark has been involved with the evaluation and analysis of electrical distribution, controls and equipment failure events that include, in part, fire, explosions, personal injury and equipment damage. Mark's practical experience and hands-on approach to investigations has qualified him as an electrical expert in both U.S. federal and state courts. 

Nick Carey

Nick Carey

Nick joined Hawkins in 2012 after a 27-year career with the London Fire Brigade. During the last 16 years of his Fire Service career, he was a full-time Fire Investigation Officer. Nick has also been a qualified electrician since 1990.  He is a Certified Fire Investigator (IAAI) and has held the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences Diploma in Fire Investigation since 2004.  In 2009 he was awarded a PhD with the University of Strathclyde for his research into the interaction of fire and electrical circuits and the metallic damage to electrical conductors located within fire scenes. He became a Chartered Forensic Practitioner (Fire) in October 2019. Nick was a founding member of the UK Association of Fire Investigators (UK-AFI) which was established in 2003, he served on the board between 2003 and 2019 and was the president of the UK-AFI between 2016 and 2018.  He was also one of the authors on the working group for the first edition of the “Code of Practice for Investigators of Fires and Explosions for the Justice Systems in the UK”, which was published in 2017. He has undertaken a large number of fire and electrical examinations within the UK and overseas involving residential, commercial and industrial buildings/sites, various types of shipping, yacht and superyacht casualties. In addition, he has provided firefighting advice for a number of shipping incidents. 


Robert Schaal

Robert J. Schaal, IAAI-CFI is a Consultant and Forensic Investigator with Gulf Coast Fire Investigation, Research, and Education, LLC, based in Mandeville, LA. He is a retired Special Agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2014, serving ATF for 27 years. During his ATF tenure, he served as a Special Agent Certified Fire Investigator and served as a Program Manager and Supervisory Special Agent coordinating ATF’s fire investigation training programs. Throughout his career he has attended numerous fire investigation training and education seminars and has coordinated and instructed numerous training programs both inside of United States and Internationally. He is a life member of the Louisiana Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators previously serving on the Board of Directors and advancing to the position of Chapter President. He is a life member of the International Association of Arson Investigators and served on the Board of Directors for 11 years, including service as President during 2009/2010. He currently serves as the Program Manager of the IAAI distance learning program, working with the steering committee of the IAAI distance learning initiative as an advisor, contributor of support materials, and a presenter. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. 


David Bridges

David E. Bridges is a technically trained attorney in Meagher + Geer, P.L.L.P.’s Catastrophic Loss Practice Group, operating out of the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas Metroplex. His practice focuses on complex civil litigation, including fires, explosions, structural failures, fire protection system failures, product failures, and other catastrophic losses and construction-related incidents across the United States. His assignments include forensic investigations of first-property and other catastrophic losses, including fires and explosions involving industrial, commercial, and residential facilities, agricultural and commercial equipment, passenger and commercial motor vehicles, including tractors, trailers, and semi-trucks, motor coaches, and passenger buses, and marine vessels. David brings the science and law together to investigate those incidents and provide representation from the outset of the incident through trial. David also represents and consults with private and public sector fire and explosion origin and cause investigators, forensic engineers, and other specialists around the country who are faced with Daubert- or Frye-related challenges to their qualifications, methodology, and opinions. He is an International Association of Arson Investigators Certified Fire Investigator (“IAAI-CFI”) and Certified Instructor (“IAAI-CI”). Prior to law school, David performed fire and explosion investigations in conjunction with his work as a special agent, certified fire investigator, and accelerant detection K-9 handler with the North Carolina Department of Justice (“NCDOJ”) / State Bureau of Investigation (“NCSBI”). He currently serves on the IAAI-Board of Directors and is Co-Chair of the IAAI’s Training & Education (“T&E”) Committee. David also serves as an adjunct instructor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives’ (“ATF”) and National Fire Academy’s (“NFA”) fire and explosion training programs. 


Jeff Washinger

 Mr. Washinger began his career in 1971 with the Shippensburg, Pennsylvania Fire Department. In 1977, he completed all course requirements at Rowan Technical Institute in Salisbury, NC and graduated Cum Laude with an Associate Degree in Fire Protection Engineering. After returning to Shippensburg following graduation, he continued his fire department career with the Southampton Township Fire Department, serving as a Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief and in 1986, retired as Fire Chief of the Department. In 1978, he joined the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs as a State Fire Service Instructor and Consultant, becoming known for his expertise in the fields of Rescue, Fire Department Management and Fire Investigations. He became a founding partner of Investigative & Loss Control Services, Inc. in 1988 and has served as a Lead Fire Investigator on many large fire losses throughout the United States.


Neal Hanke

Neal has B.S. in Materials Engineering from Iowa State University. He is a licensed professional materials and metallurgical engineer in several states throughout the Midwest and has been conducting materials characterization and testing with Materials Evaluation and Engineering, Inc. in Plymouth, MN since 2011. Since becoming a P.E. in 2016, he has focused primarily on forensic materials investigations, especially those involving fires and explosions.

bottom of page