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Fire Investigation: Case Preparation and Testimony R0790

Training Specialist

Kevin Oliver

Delivery type

6-day on-campus

Continuing education units


ACE recommendation

In the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 3 semester hours in fire investigation.

Future students: The Fire Investigation curriculum is changing. Please review the (revised) course prerequisites and student selection criteria on this page to make sure that you are qualified to apply for this course.

This course is not designed for new investigators, or those with limited exposure to court systems. This 6-day (plus 2 weeks pre-arrival work) course is an intense, interactive and realistic experience providing students with case development, case review, and the knowledge and skills to refine and expand their ability to testify as an expert.

This course is offered in a blended format; students are assigned a cold case file and other activities 2 weeks prior to arrival with corresponding course work.  A laptop or tablet is required, and copies of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations (2021) and NFPA 1033, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator are required to attend this course.

NOTE: Students who fail to complete the pre-arrival, distance learning activities will be removed from the residence portion of the course and forfeit stipend reimbursement.

This course is designed to prepare individuals to present a case in a courtroom setting; appropriate courtroom attire is required.

Successful completion of this course satisfies the requirements of the International Association of Arson Investigators for Expert Testimony. This course expands upon concepts presented in "Fire Investigation: Essentials" (R0772).

Pre-course materials and course syllabus

Welcome Letter and Instructions to Download Student Manual: PDF 190K
Course Syllabus: PDF 761KB

This intense and highly interactive course is designed for more experienced fire investigators. Because of the advanced and technical nature of the course, an experienced student is vital for the overall effectiveness of the course and for the success of the student. It is recommended this be the last course taken within the NFA Fire Investigations curriculum.

This course is offered in a blended format; students are assigned a cold case file and other activities two weeks prior to arrival with corresponding course work. Students who fail to complete the pre-arrival, distance learning activities will be removed from the in-residence portion of the course, not be permitted access to campus, and forfeit stipend reimbursement.

To apply, applicants must possess and document a minimum of two (2) years of experience as a FULL-TIME public sector investigator, or four (4) years as a PART-TIME public sector fire investigator.

  • For purposes of these criteria, a Full-Time public investigator is defined as: the applicant’s primary job responsibility for the past two years has been the investigation of the Origin and Cause of fires and explosions or has documented participation in the investigation of 40 or more fires investigated per year.
  • For purposes of these criteria, a Part-Time public investigator is defined as: where the applicant has other assigned duties that may take the majority of the applicant’s work schedule. Those duties may include fire suppression, fire inspection, fire safety, fire prevention, or criminal investigations where fire investigation is a significant component of the applicant’s assigned duties. The applicant must have documented participation in a minimum of 10 fires investigated per year or in the investigation of 40 or more fires investigated over the four-year period prior to applying to this course.

Priority will be reserved for federal, state, and local fire service, law enforcement personnel, and prosecutors with full-time fire/arson/explosion investigation responsibility and/or prosecution. These personnel include fire/arson investigators, state fire marshals, law enforcement personnel, criminal investigators, district attorney’s staff, and members of arson task forces.

Applicants must submit a detailed letter from the chief of the department, attesting to their position, duties, and responsibilities as related to fire investigation and the involvement with the prosecution of federal, state, or tribal arson laws, including responsibilities to testify in court. The letter must also attest that the applicant has met the experience (full or part-time) and fire scenes criteria listed above.

Incident Command System (ICS)-100-level and ICS-200-level training. Preferred courses are Q0462 and Q0463 available through NFA Online. Chief's signature on the application attests that the applicant has completed this required training.

Applicants must meet ONE of the following SECTIONS:

Successful completion of the National Fire Academy's (NFA’s) "Fire Investigation: Essentials" (R0772) course.

Additionally, successful completion totaling 80 or more hours of any in-person and tested fire investigation related practical training. ( modules do not count towards this requirement.)


Successful completion of a State Equivalent Fire Investigations course that resulted in the issuance of a certificate recognized by the state in which the applicant is employed. The State Equivalent Fire Investigation course must either be recognized by the state for designation / certification or by an Accredited Instructional program, i.e., ProBoard, IFSAC, etc. The student must complete all modules required by the state course series. (For example, if a state offers three modules of training within the Fire Investigator series, all three modules must be completed for credit and before applying to this course)

Additionally, successful completion totaling 150 or more hours of any in-person and tested fire investigation related practical training. ( modules do not count towards this requirement.) 


In addition to completion of one of the above sections, applicants must also complete the following (10) modules (transcript MUST be submitted with application):

  1. Critical Thinking Solves Cases.
  2. Discovery in Civil Cases.
  3. Discovery in Criminal Cases.
  4. Effective Investigation and Testimony.
  5. Ethical Duties Beyond the Fire Scene.
  6. Ethics and the Fire Investigator.
  7. Magnetek:  A Case Study in the Daubert Challenge.
  8. Process of Elimination.
  9. The Deposition Part 1: Format, Content and Preparation.
  10. The Deposition Part 2: Questioning, Tactics and Effective Responses.
Applicants must provide a copy of their transcript and all documentation to support the prerequisite requirements at the time of application. Documentation (certificates, transcripts, certifications and letters) must be clear, readable, concise, show hours required to meet thresholds and be attached to the application at time of submission.

Note: As a pre-course assignment, accepted students will be required to upload certificates of the above listed courses into the NFA's Learning Management System (LMS). For this pre-course assignment, the classes must have been taken or "refreshed" within a calendar year of the first day of class attendance. Certificates, dated within a calendar year of the start of class, must be uploaded to the LMS prior to arrival on campus. If you are selected for this class, you will receive instructions from the Training Specialist on when or how to upload those certificates into the LMS. Do not send these certificates to the Admissions Office.

Upcoming offerings

Dates Availability Location Contact(s) CCP
May 19 - 24, 2024 Vacancies Apply Emmitsburg, Maryland
June 23 - 28, 2024 Cancelled Emmitsburg, Maryland
August 25 - 30, 2024 Apply between 3/15/2024 - 4/15/2024 Emmitsburg, Maryland