Working Together to Fight Arson
Arson is everyone’s problem. It can affect every community and can result in tragic loss of life and extensive property losses. The property losses resulting from crimes of arson hurt not only those who own targeted properties, but also the individuals and communities who rely on the jobs, products and services provided by businesses that fall victim to arson.
The successful prevention, investigation and prosecution of arson require a team effort. Only through working together can we address the arson problem. Within British Columbia, Chapter 15 of the IAAI is the lead organization working within the field of arson investigations. Our members are committed to ensuring that those professionals whose responsibilities include the prevention, investigation,or prosecution of arson have the necessary tools to fight the heinous crime of arson.
Mission of the BC Chapter 15 IAAI
Our organization is a professional association with representation from law enforcement, fire service, insurance professionals, governmental organizations and agencies, lawyers and private fire investigators. These individuals believe in working together to reduce loss of life and property, further fire prevention, and finding innovative ways to provide specialized training in fire and arson investigation.
We fulfill our mission by providing our members with an array of membership services designed to enable them to succeed in fighting arson within thier various jurisdictions and as applicable to thier various roles and responsibilities. Our core services include expansion of networking opportunities, providing training and dissemination of information related to fire investigation.
The idea to form the local British Columbia Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators was initiated in 1973 during an unofficial meeting held at the Burnaby Fire Department headquarters by a group of fire wardens and fire investigators. The group agreed that an organization devoted to furthering the professional development of those persons engaged in the control of arson and related crimes was needed within British Columbia. Membership quickly grew from 10 to 35 under the leadership of Vancouver Fire Warden Ed Jackson within the first 8 months and it was then decided that the group would apply to become an official IAAI Chapter. In 1974, Dan Lemieux attended a meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska and was granted a Chapter Charter by the IAAI for “British Columbia Chapter 15” of the IAAI. Chapter 15 became the fifteenth chartered Chapter and the very first Canadian Chapter of the IAAI. Dan Lemieux became the first official President and served for a term of 9 years. Click on the following links for articles on the history of BC Chapter 15, Canadian Involvement in the IAAI or the personal history of our first President Dan Lemieux:
- History of BC Chapter 15 IAAI [this link resource is under development]
- Canadian involvement in IAAI [this link resource is under development]
- Personal History of Daniel Bernard Lemieux – Past President and Life Member [this link resource is under development]
We are part of a larger parent organization known as “The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)” that was formed and chartered as a non-profit organization in Louisville, Kentucky. The first president of the organization, Mr. George H. Parker, based on the wishes of the membership, filed the request for incorporation in the latter part of 1949. The State of Kentucky required an “Annual verification of IAAI Incorporation” filed with the Secretary of State. This was to include the name of the individual within the State of Kentucky who would be responsible for any actions of the IAAI.
The IAAI became a viable and functional organization due to the need and necessity for training and specific education in the uncharted waters of fire and arson investigation that had previously been non-existent. The first two training seminars were held at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana for an attendance fee of $10.00 and rooms at the University were rented at a cost of $2.50 (single) or $4.00 (double) per night. Seminar sessions ran from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
The first official emblem of the association was designed in 1952-53 and it is still currently used. The first newsletter was a one page cover letter printed in 1949 plus a directory of 400 members. Today the IAAI has over 10,000 members around the world, has 69 Affiliate Chapters like our own across the United States, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and the South Pacific. There are IAAI members in over 36 countries.
The IAAI is the parent organization of Chapter 15 in British Columbia and manages it’s own separate membership registry with separate membership benefits and annual fees. Associate membership status within Chapter 15 grants our membership access to many local benefits that are specific to British Columbia and are not otherwise provided to members of the parent IAAI organization.
It is highly recommended that in order to fully experience the benefits of IAAI membership, individuals should consider becoming members of both the parent organization as well as thier local Affiliate Chapter. Affiliate Chapter and International members alike abide by the IAAI Constitution & Bylaws.
Eligibility for Membership
Any public or private professional actively engaged in fire investigation, arson detection or prosecution is eligible for membership in BC Chapter 15 IAAI. In addition to joining this local Chapter, many of members also choose to affiliate with our parent organization the IAAI.
Our local Chapter and parent organization offer a comprehensive array of membership services designed to prepare and support our members in preventing, investigating and prosecuting arson fires. We stand prepared to provide you with recognized and respected professional development opportunities through training and certification programs. As your partner in fighting arson, we provide you with the information resources and networking opportunities that will assist you and enable you to assist others committed to fighting arson within British Columbia and around the world.
The IAAI presently manages four certifications relevant to the field of fire and arson investigation.
The Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) certification is the most highly recognized and respected certification in fire investigation. This designation attests to a level of professional competency of fire servie, law enforcement and insurance professionals whose responsibilities involve the prevention, investigation or prosecution of arson. IAAI members who meet the qualification criteria and successfully complete the required testing are awarded the Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) professional designation. Achievement of the CFI designation is a path to gaining ProBoard accreditation to the recognized National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard for fire investigation professionals, “NFPA 1033 – Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigators”
The Fire Investigation Technician Program is designed to verify an applicant’s fundamental knowledge as measured against core job performance requirements of established professional qualification standards for fire investigators defined in NFPA 1021, NFPA 1033 and NFPA 1037. The applicant must provide documentation of meeting minimum requirements including experience, training, and education. Upon approval they must successfully pass a comprehensive examination.
The Evidence CollectionTechnician Program is designed to verify an applicant’s fundamental knowledge as measured against core job performance requirements of established professional qualifications standards and standard industry practices related to evidence collection on fire scenes. This measurement is not all inclusive of the incorporated professional standards sited but lays the foundation for measuring the holder’s fundamental ability to perform specific evidence collection tasks related to fire scene investigation at an acceptable level as measured against published acceptable practices.
The International Association of Arson Investigators, Certified Instructor program
(IAAI-CI) is administered by the IAAI and is designed to verify an applicant’s level of
fundamental knowledge as measured against various core job performance requirements
(JPRs) of established professional qualifications standards related to Fire Service
The “Fire and Arson Investigator” is a quarterly publication that is available only to IAAI members. Within British Columbia, “The Informer” quarterly publication that is available only to Chapter 15 members. Both publications provide timely articles related to fire investigation issues, methods and techniques for investigations. Each issue contains feature articles written by fire investigation professionals and your peers. The publications provide an excellent resource for members. With the launch of the new website, The Informer will now be published online and an archive of past editions will be available to members only.
Annual Meeting and Seminars
Each year the BC Chapter 15 holds an annual general meeting along with a multi-day training event. Two additional training seminars are usually held in the winter and the fall. Members from around British Columbia and Washington gather together to participate and exchange information regarding fire and arson investigation. Attendees of the annual meeting and seminar enhance their knowledge and skills in new and innovative approaches to fire and arson investigation.
The educational seminars address a diverse array of topics related to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of arson fires. Representative seminar topics designed to enhance the knowledge of seminar participants include:
- expert witness qualifications
- electrical fire causes
- evidence collection protocols
- explosion dynamics and explosive devices
- vehicle fires
- fire scene examination
- forensic pathology
- organized crime, gangs and arson
- Roles of the various parties in a Fire Investigation
- Terrorism and arson
- Fraud and Arson
The BC Chapter 15 IAAI membership directory is an essential reference and networking resource for fire and arson investigation professionals. It is updated regularly and available online to our membership only.
We Are Not Alone
The BC Chapter 15 IAAI Executive Board works in cooperation with other organizations, associations and our parent organization to plan, develop and deliver fire investigation training opportunities and promote the reduction of arson through prevention and suppression. Here at home we are involved with the Fire Prevention Officers Association of British Columbia (FPOABC), the Fire Chief’s Association of British Columbia (FCABC), the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other local municipal Police forces. We are also in regular contact with our Chapter liaison for the IAAI parent organization as well as other IAAI Chapter’s located in Alberta, Ontario and Washington.