Annual Arson Investigation
The Annual Arson Investigation burn, overseen by Heather Keaton, Principal of Warren Tech, was held on April 30th, 2019, that brought students from the Warren Tech Fire Science, Criminal Justice, Forensic Sciences, Building Trades, and the Emergency Dispatch to all combine on what they have learned over the course of the year about building construction, firefighting, 911 operations center, evidence preservation and gathering forensic science. Students built the structures for a full scale live burn, and criminal justice students after the burn collected, preserve and process the evidence from the crime scene with a pig that was placed inside the structure. Fire Science Engine 9112 was on scene with the students controlling and putting out the fire. Fire Department partners Engineer Mark Campbell from Denver Fire Department, Investigator Rob Sprenkle of South Metro Fire Rescue, Investigator Scott Plumer of Arvada Fire Department, Afton Nance of Warren Tech Forensic Sciences, Valarie Purl of Warren Tech Criminology, Nanci Tatum of Warren Tech Emergency Dispatch, Marc Frates of Warren Tech Building Trades, and Matt Beckett of Warren Tech Fire Science Instructor.
This annual event brings the students together with various experts within the community to expand on their studies throughout the year. These experts included Robert Toth (Iris Fire Investigations), Kevin Hammons (Metro State University Denver), Dr. Bastiaan Cornelissen (Spectrum Forensics), Bryan Kempa (ATF), Ryan Noble (ATF), Gary Scott (Metro State University), and Matt Mason (Interstate Restoration). The scenario started with a fire adjacent to the couch. Once the smoke detector activated the fire alarm panel, a signal was transmitted to Western States Fire Protection’s central station which then called the emergency dispatch on site. After being dispatched, the firefighters pull the engine near the fire and proceeded with fire ground operation which included fire suppression, ventilation, and overall.
Working in concert with each group, the students were guided through the fire scene to identify a variety of evidence including shell casings, knives, broken glass, light bulbs, and incendiary devices (batteries, wire, and matches). Since pig and human tissue respond similarly in a fire, they are used when cadavers are not available. The pig was removed, and the various wounds were examined by the students to identify a variety of forensic evidence.
In addition, the burn cells, provided additional corroborating data and information which is used in the research of scale modeling of fires at Metro State University Denver under the direction of Kevin Hammons and Mark Campbell. 5280Fire provided several photographers to document the scene for the student’s investigation as well as the research at Metro State University.
This annual Arson Investigation program would not be possible if it were not for the support of the various experts who donate their time, money, and skills to help these students experience a elaborate and exciting end of year project. (Additional information provided by Mark Campbell)