HOLDEN, Mass. — Members of Holden's Police and Fire departments were among the 39 graduates Wednesday of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s six-day Advanced Fire Investigation course.
Holden participants included Det. Sgt. Chris Carey of the Holden Police Department along with Firefighter/EMT Dennis Carlson and FF/EMT-P Robert Nickerson III.
The rigorous professional training program provides fire and state and local police officers with the advanced skills to accurately determine the origin and cause of fires in their jurisdictions and how to work together to build solid, prosecutable cases.
The program is offered tuition-free by the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, a division of the Department of Fire Services.
“The team concept of fire investigation has been used successfully in Massachusetts for over a decade and it starts with joint training,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “When police and fire are trained in the same techniques and procedures together, the consistency leads to solid cause and origin determinations, and when arson is the cause, solid criminal cases.”
Coan said that it's often challenging to determine the cause of the fire when so much of the needed evidence is destroyed by the fire itself.
"Fires can also create evidence which assists investigators," he explained. "This training provides our local fire and police investigators with the skills and knowledge to meet that challenge.”
Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Director Edmund M. Walker said the course also "provides students with fire scene experience from investigation through courtroom testimony" and exposes them to the investigatory process as outlined in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations.