In Fire Experts: Times Have Changed, explosions expert witness Robert L. Rowe, CFI/PI, writes:
In today’s litigious society, much more is required to prove guilt or negligence when fires occur. A fire expert must be able to make a determination as to why a fire (or explosion) has occurred and report their findings and recommendations using the aforementioned “Scientific” methodology. This includes, recognizing the problem, defining the problem, collecting data, analyzing the data, developing a hypothesis and finally proving the hypothesis.
Gone are the days of gut feelings and “hand me down” theories as to how fires start and spread. The role of a fire expert nowadays most often involves much more. Therefore it is essential that fire experts are familiar with and follow the guidelines of NFPA 921 to insure that each investigation is conducted in a consistent manner and that all aspects of a given fire scene are properly evaluated.
Robert L. Rowe, President of Pyrocop, Inc., is a fire code consultant, certified fire investigator, and private investigator. He served as Deputy Fire Marshal/Fire Investigator/Hazmat Tech for the City of Downey, CA, from 12/89 – 3/07.