2023 MN IAAI Annual Training Conference 

Wednesday March 29, 2023

8:00 am to 9:30 am:      

Opening Ceremonies and Annual Meeting


9:30 am to 12:00 pm

Report Writing

Instructor: Darren Solomon, ATF-CFI, IAAI-CFI

 This presentation will provide attendees with instruction that will help them author a better fire origin and cause report.  Attendees will learn the factors needed to create a successful report that articulates their methodology and findings.  Several fire origin and cause report excerpts will be discussed regarding possible issues and tips to becoming a better writer will be shared.  Attendees will then learn the importance of drafting a report based on purpose, methodology, audience, and required content. Instruction will include key components of reports such as scope, methodology, observations, scene processing, and hypothesis evaluation.  Students will then learn the key elements that need to be identified in the conclusion section of such a report.  Finally, instruction will conclude with an overview of report review procedures including administrative, technical, and peer.


 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm:    Lunch


 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Introduction to Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Fires - Investigation and Analysis

Instructor: Hernan Mercado-Corujo

 This session will explore relevant fire causes associated with the unique challenges presented by this technology, applicable investigation techniques, and advise on how to approach these complex events. A review of past research efforts is presented. Applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are discussed. Case studies will review findings from real-world examples. Techniques for further laboratory inspections will be discussed.


3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Failure Analysis of Residential Dehumidifiers

Instructor: Luke Choudek

 Dehumidifiers are responsible for millions of dollars of damage throughout the Midwest. The CPSC has issued at least two recalls involving 2.5 million units across 12 brands. This hands-on presentation will help educate the investigator on the operation of a household dehumidifier, the identification and preservation process and also provide an explanation of the common failure modes that can be identified in the field and in a laboratory setting.


4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Motor Vehicle Fluid Heater Failures

Instructor: John Pagels, P.E. and Neal Hanke, P.E.

 Electric engine, transmission, and vehicle fluid heaters all have the propensity to be the heat source for the ignition heat source of a fire.  How can you tell if one of these heaters has caused a fire?  Sit back and listen as some case studies are presented.


 Thursday, March 30, 2023

 8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Fire Investigator Health and Safety: Saving Lives Through Best Practices

Instructor: Jeff Pauley, IAAI-CFI, IAAI-CI

 This presentation provides attendees with an understanding of the many health and safety hazards present in the post-fire environment to help identify where and when toxic gasses, vapors, and particulates are present and the dangers of these substances, along with other hazards, pose. Attendees should then understand the need to use personal protective equipment in the post-fire environment, including proper respiratory protection


12:00 pm to 1:00 pm:  Lunch


1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Alternative Energy Systems

Instructor: Dr. John Cavaroc

 This presentation focuses on existing and emerging residential and commercial solar (photovoltaic) grid-tied systems and grid-tied battery energy storage systems (BESS).  A review of electrical fundamentals, premises wiring systems, and electric utility systems will be presented first, followed by the design, integration, and operation fundamentals of these alternative energy systems.  Potential hazards associated with photovoltaic and battery systems, and how they can affect the fire investigator and fire investigation will also be discussed.  Case studies will be used to illustrate fire investigation challenges and fire cause scenarios involving these types of alternative energy systems.

1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Insurance Track - Vetting Your Fire Loss Experts

Instructors: Dominic Novak and Jeff Washinger

 Fire losses by their very nature can be complicated, not only from the investigation standpoint, but also from the fire loss and file adjusting that the Insurance Professional must deal with. As a member of a larger investigation team that will be working on a given fire loss file, the Insurance Professional has the distinction of forming the investigative team that will ultimately decide the success of the case. The purpose of this course is to educate today’s Claims Professional into the intricacies of today's fire investigation Industry. The course is designed to provide the Claims Professional with an up-to-date understanding of the requirements and considerations that today’s fire investigator must possess and be intimately familiar with. By becoming familiar with these topics, the Claims Professional will be able to make informed decisions regarding the make-up of the fire investigation team that will be needed to assist them with the handling of these claims.


Friday, March 31, 2023

8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Hypothesis Development in Fire Investigation: Theory and Practice

Instructor: Steven Avato

 This presentation is designed to encourage participants to critically examine the concepts of the hypothesis and hypothesis development in fire investigation. Across the range of experience levels, fire investigators should be aware of the systematic methodology of fire investigation, based on the scientific method, as described in Chapter 4 of NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations. This approach includes the crucial step “Develop hypotheses” in what is presented in Figure 4.3 of NFPA 921 as a linear, iterative process. Some of the issues addressed in this presentation will be:

  • Is the “scientific method” a myth?
  • Is the “scientific method” a linear process as described in NFPA 921?
  • Is the “scientific method” as described in NFPA 921 normative or descriptive?

Through a series of discussions, questions and real-world examples, the presenter will take participants through the process of fire investigation and present the points at which hypotheses can, and should, be developed, and discuss such issues as:

  • What is a hypothesis and what is required to form a hypothesis?
  • What aspects of fire investigation can/should an investigator hypothesize about?
  • What is a “valid” hypothesis and can there be “invalid” hypotheses?
  • How can a hypothesis be “tested” and what is required of testing?
  • How can a hypothesis be “falsifiable” and where did “Falsificationism” come from?
  • How do I “prove” a hypothesis? Can they be “proven”?
  • What does “Confirming” or “Refuting” a hypothesis mean?

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will have taken a fresh look at one of the most common procedures in fire investigation, hypothesis development.  Hopefully, the concepts presented in this discussion will better prepare the fire investigator to recognize the prevalence of hypotheses inherent in fire investigation, the importance of hypothesis development, what a hypothesis is and is not, and the need to both document and articulate their hypotheses.