Wolf’s Michael S. Harkness, P.E., C.F.E.I., C.V.F.I., is now a Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator. The Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator (CVFI) Certification is administered nationally under the authority of the National Association of Fire Investigator’s (NAFI) National Certification Board. In order to obtain a CVFI, one must possess a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification. One must possess a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification in order to be eligible for a CVFI certification. A CFEI will contain a thorough understanding of fire dynamics and the application of the Scientific Method as applied to origin and cause investigations. These same methods utilized in investigations of structure fires are also applied to vehicle fires. These vehicles include anything from passenger vehicles, tractor-trailers, buses, recreational vehicles, and heavy equipment such as those utilized in agriculture. The relatively small compartment sizes found in vehicles along with the large quantities of plastics and other flammable components found throughout vehicles can lead to more rapid fire growth. Wolf Technical’s personnel have an understanding and knowledge of the many different vehicle systems which include:
• Fuel systems • Emission control systems • Electrical systems • Mechanical power systems – i.e. lubrication and cooling • Transmission systems • Braking systems • Exterior body and interior finishes and accessories
While conducting a safe investigation of a vehicle fire, each of these components must be thoroughly evaluated and documented. Utilizing an understanding of burn patterns found on the vehicle as well as the knowledge of fire behavior / physics, one can use this information to conduct a thorough origin and cause investigation of a vehicle fire. A CVFI shall contain the necessary skills and knowledge to do the following:
• Proper systematic approach and application of the Scientific Method to each examination of the vehicle and the fire scene • Understanding of basic vehicle design and electrical systems • A working knowledge of wiring used in motor vehicles and the presence of electrical activity on those wires • Proper documentation of the vehicle fire and scene including photographic documentation • Proper collection and storage of evidence from the vehicle fire scene including the vehicle itself • Understanding and knowledge of how to obtain recall notices, technical service bulletin information, consumer complaint information, and general research information associated with each vehicle fire investigation
At Wolf Technical, a thorough and complete vehicle fire investigation shall be conducted each time. Wolf Technical not only contains personnel with a CVFI with knowledge of vehicles, but other personnel are present on staff with a complete understanding of vehicle systems and their mechanics. Vehicle fires present a unique challenge each and every time. Proper assessment of the origin and cause of a vehicle fire requires an understanding and knowledge of the investigation from witness statements to the maintenance records to an evaluation of the fire behavior and patterns found on the vehicle. Wolf Technical provides experts with the background and knowledge to properly conduct a thorough and complete vehicle fire investigation.