"NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations" Often times I hear fellow public sector investigators bash the use of NFPA 921 with such quotes as "who has time to perform that extensive of an investigation?' or "I don't want to ever be classified as an expert witness, therefore I don't have to know what that document has to say." Let me be the first to say with all due respect to whomever may read this, If you don't want to be considered an expert in your field then please do us all a favor and find another profession. Im sure your services will be appreciated more elsewhere.
While NFPA 921 is a guide, it is an authoritative guide that has been developed by a panel of individuals with a vast knowledge of topics that impact every fire scene investigation. Often times fire investigators in the public sector will go there entire career and never have to testify in court regarding their origin and cause report. However, as someone who has been to court regarding my work product, let me be the first to tell you that your work will be the deciding factor on if your case is allowed into court or not. As a fire investigator in the public sector we have 2 key areas of focus, and those are putting arsonist behind bars, and staying abreast of trends that we see in our communities of causing fires. Through those two areas we have the chance to impact the loss of life that we experience in our communities.
I strongly encourage each and every individual who is tasked with origin and cause investigation in their community to become familiar with 921 and its application to your work. While there are several things in the document that are debatable, at the end of the day you will be held to the sections of this guide that pertain to your case.
If you are an investigator and need assistance with continuing your education, I encourage you to check out International Association of Arson Investigators CFITrainer.net. Many hours of classes are archived on their website for free and each class completed gives you continuing education hours towards your CV.