International Association of Arson Investigators
Hello to everyone! I hope this message finds you well and that your new year is off to an easy start. It has been a while since I touched base with the membership, and I wanted to update everyone on Chapter business. In full disclosure, this will be a bit lengthy because I have a great deal of information to share. So, get a drink and snack because I want you to be comfortable while you read.
First, Training Committee Chairman and 2 nd VP Andy Thomas has been full speed ahead on several training opportunities. We are excited to conduct our first Evidence Collection class in Catawba County the first week of March. Thanks to Board Directors John Bull and Jason Boggs for all their hard work. We are hoping to share news of other evidence collection classes in the future. Andy and the Training Committee are finalizing this year’s Spring Conference in Pinehurst. A presentation schedule and additional information will be released soon. Sandhills Community College has been a phenomenal partner and is excited to host our conference. Other training opportunities are also in the works and we will share that information at our next Chapter meeting.
Our Spring Conference will not only provide a terrific training and networking opportunity, but it will also mark a start for our Chapter to give back to our communities and to the burn victims we often encounter. Recently, I have spoken with representatives from the UNC Jaycee Burn Center and the Wake Forest Baptist Burn Center with the goal of creating new partnerships. As a result of these discussions, the medical staffs from both hospitals and Chapter members are crafting a Burn Forensics training event. We are blessed to have two cutting-edge burn centers in North Carolina and they are eager to share their expertise with us. As thanks, the NC Chapter will be holding several charity drives to benefit both hospitals this year, with the first occurring at the Spring Conference. I am challenging our membership to donate items greatly needed by both centers: cash and new shoes. The cash will go towards gift cards that the hospitals provide to families while their loved ones receive care. The shoes will be given to burn victims to help them get up, moving, and healing. The burn centers require that the shoes be ones with laces, and bigger sizes are encouraged. It’s a challenge to get a bandaged foot in a small shoe. People, our Spring Conference is FREE TRAINING! I know our membership will step up!!!
This year, the Fire Life Safety/ NC Fire Marshal's Association conference is being held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC, on Feb 28-29 th . YOUR NC IAAI Chapter will be present as an exhibitor! This is our first event this year, so if you are attending, please stop by, say hello, and grab some swag. For those social media savvy types, I hope you are following our NC IAAI Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NCIAAI) and our updated website. For those of you not, please consider checking them out and following. Our Facebook page shares information, news, and happenings from across the state and about our profession. Our website is now more user friendly and has links to a great deal of information. Of particular note, our site now lists information and the application for this year’s college scholarship! We want to give these scholarships away so please have your high schoolers apply. Every dime helps and makes it a little easier when that tuition bill arrives. Here is the link: https://nciaai.com/Academic-Scholarship
Lastly, I want to remind our chapter members that are also IAAI members that the IAAI elections are open. Candidate information can be found on both our website and Facebook pages. In addition to the officer positions, several by-law amendments are on the ballot. Please take a chance to read and research these amendments at firearson.com. Just because they are on the ballot, does not mean they should automatically earn your vote. Both the current IAAI Board of Directors and the Past Presidents Committee have both come out against the foolish and absurd Amendment 23-01.
Everyone stay safe. Take care of yourselves and check in on a friend. Make a commitment to coming home every night.
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season! Please know how much you are appreciated and how much of an impact you make on our neighbors and our communities. Unfortunately, our profession is one that forces us to come face-to-face with tragedy and loss. However, we solider forward striving to provide answers when they are needed the most. I am immensely proud of what we do, and I know that you often sacrifice of yourselves without complaint or hesitation. During this holiday season, please take time to not just be around friends and family, but to be WITH your loved ones. Their sacrifice and love allow us to step up when needed, and also heal us when we come home.
I wanted to take a moment and share a story. On a recent Saturday, I was waiting on a to-go order at a local restaurant when I saw a fellow chapter member walk in with his family. He was wearing one of our NC-IAAI shirts and I immediately recognized him, but he did not see me as I stood in the back of the business. I smiled as I watched him hold the door open for several customers while he waited. When a lady dropped an item and was unaware, he retrieved it and took it to her much to her appreciation. When he placed his order, he thanked the clerk who was half his age with “thank you ma’am.” He conducted himself the way that I know that many of you do every day. I could not have been any prouder to be his fellow chapter member and it was an honor to shake his hand.
I look forward to seeing everyone at our meeting in January! I am excited to announce that in addition to the chapter meeting, we will provide a short training session for those attending either in-person or online. Special Agent/Forensic Scientist Kristen Crawford from the NC-DOJ Crime Laboratory will join us in Conover. She will speak about current evidence processing and packaging trends the lab is seeing as well as hold a question-and-answer session. SA Crawford is a wealth of knowledge and this will be an excellent opportunity to ask any laboratory or forensic sciences questions you have. We will also update the membership on a number of other issues and look forward to your feedback.
Again, thank you for everything you do. I hope that everyone has a joyous holiday season full of blessings and good health. I look forward to the great things we will accomplish in the new year!
I never imagined myself writing a blog, so pardon me if I start to fear that the end is near. With that being said, (and now that I’m actually authoring one), let me say it’s a pleasure to be doing it on behalf of our NC IAAI Chapter. The opportunity to serve the largest state chapter in the IAAI is humbling but exciting. I believe in the greatness of our organization, and I am excited about the direction that we will take this year. I am unable to express the level of my gratitude and respect for Past President Ian Tedder. Ian had a vision for our Executive Board to set both short- and long-term goals that would span several presidencies. We successfully started that plan last year with great results and I intend to continue it with 1st VP Adam Stanley and 2nd VP Andy Thomas.
The launch of our new chapter website and the incorporation of a new online membership application demonstrate two examples of our NC Chapter evolving and continuing to be one of the best in the country. Your Board of Directors stands committed to providing NC IAAI members with more benefits, more training across the state, and a voice to our elected officials. I believe that now is the perfect time to partner with other associations across the state to share our knowledge and expertise in the field of fire investigation. We need to be proud of who we are and what we know, yet humble enough to share so that North Carolina and its citizens’ benefit. We all know one of the first questions asked after a fire has been extinguished is: “Any idea how it started?” That moment is when our membership shines because we are the subject matter experts.
I look forward to serving you and please reach out if you have questions or needs from the Chapter. Check our website often for news and updates. I am still baffled that I just wrote a blog!
Stay safe and commit to going home tonight and every night.