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Fire Investigator Qualifications Standard Approved for OSAC Registry

Man in NIST fire research t-shirt and hard hat standing among wreckage

NIST researcher photographing the remains of the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, S.C., on June 19, 2007, the day after the fire that killed nine firefighters.

Credit: NIST

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science has approved the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator for inclusion on the OSAC Registry, which serves as a trusted repository of high-quality, science-based standards and guidelines for forensic practice. This is the first personnel qualification standard and the second NFPA document to be included on the OSAC Registry.

OSAC, which is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is working to strengthen forensic science by facilitating the development of discipline-specific, science-based standards and guidelines for a broad array of forensic disciplines. To be posted to the OSAC Registry, standards and guidelines must have been developed using a consensus-based process and must pass a review of technical merit by forensic practitioners, academic researchers, statisticians and measurement scientists.

NFPA 1033: Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator, 2014 Edition specifies the necessary job performance requirements for fire investigators that operate in both the private and pubic sectors. NFPA 1033 addresses the knowledge and skills required for all aspects of fire investigation, including scene examination, scene documentation, evidence collection/preservation, interviewing, post-incident investigation and presentations.

Craig Beyler, the chair of OSAC’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Subcommittee, managed the rigorous OSAC technical review of this document. “The NFPA 1033 standard is an important complement to NFPA 921,” Beyler said. NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation, was listed on the registry in September 2016. “It establishes professional qualifications for the fire investigator and defines the conduct of fire investigations by identifying minimum job performance requirements and the requisite knowledge and skills to carry them out.”

Mark Stolorow, director of OSAC affairs at NIST, indicated that elevating NFPA 1033 to the official OSAC Registry is an endorsement of the quality content contained within the standard and encourages fire investigation agencies to implement the standard.

OSAC does not have authority to enforce standards. However, by placing standards on the OSAC Registry, OSAC promotes their adoption by forensic science service providers. The goal of OSAC and its 550-plus members is to facilitate the development of science-based standards for each of 25 distinct forensic science disciplines and to promote their widespread adoption.

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Released December 22, 2016, Updated February 26, 2019