Last night I attended the February meeting of the Capital Crime Writers in Ottawa, where I had an opportunity to hear a presentation given by Sgt. David Christie of the Arson Unit, Ottawa Police Service.
Sgt. Christie gave us a fascinating walk-through of the basics of arson investigation. He covered motives for arson, file closure rates, the investigative process, fire patterns and other indicators of arson, and the roles and responsibilities of police as related to the fire department and the Fire Marshall's office. I made a ream of notes and found his presentation to be extremely interesting.
The sergeant explained that he normally delivered such presentations to police recruits, but he seemed to make the adjustment quite well to a collection of crime writers with over-active imaginations wanting to pick his brain on the psychology of arson, how pour patterns can be recognized, and why their budget doesn't have room for service providers to help with clearing and sifting debris for physical evidence. Kudos to Sgt. Christie for being informative, humorous and patient all at the same time!
New abbreviation for my collection: BLEVE (boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion). Thanx!