AUSTIN — Nearly 300 fire and arson investigators from across the state are attending the 50th annual Texas Fire and Arson Investigators Seminar this week to enhance their technical skills and knowledge in investigating and prosecuting cases of arson.
Participants are attending sessions on fire death investigation, arson prosecution, methamphetamine labs and handling juvenile offenders. The professional development conference is conducted by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Texas Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, and is sponsored by the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association.
Guest speakers include Dr. Henry Lee of the Connecticut Department of Scientific Services, who is a leading expert in fatality investigations and was involved in the O.J. Simpson case. Also speaking is Michael Cabral, Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, who successfully prosecuted serial arsonist John Orr in California.
During 2002, more than 10,000 fires in Texas were suspected or determined to be deliberately set to destroy property, according to a report published by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. These fires resulted in 26 deaths, 92 civilian injuries, 76 firefighter injuries and more than $76 million in losses.
Several organizations are holding meetings in conjunction with this week’s conference, and the Texas Advisory Council on Arson will present its annual awards for outstanding accomplishments in arson prevention at a banquet on Thursday, March 24.
Participants are eligible for continuing education credit from the State Board of Insurance and/or the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. The national Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) exam is also offered during the conference.