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The Twenty-third Annual Fire Investigators Training Conference will be held March 21 - 23, 2014 at the Stoney Creek Inn in East Peoria, IL. All classes are tested and sanctioned by the Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators.

Exams for the IAAI-CFI program may be available if setup with the International office in advance. Visit the IAAI Illinois Chapter's website at for more information.

Registration Information

Advanced registration (Must be postmarked by March 14, 2014): $115

At-the-door registration: $125

All members of CIFIA/IAAI and arson investigation organizations receive a $5 discount.


Friday, March 21, 2014
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Computer Evidence Recovery
Jeff Knauer
6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Registration
6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Gas Explosions
Jamie Novak
9:30 p.m.- Midnight Hospitality Room
Saturday, March 22, 2014
7 a.m. - 8 a.m. Registration
7:45 a.m. - 8 a.m. Welcoming Comments
8 a.m. - Noon Flashovers, Unusual Fire Patterns, and Electrical Fires
Jamie Novak
Noon - 1 p.m. Lunch (provided)
1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Flashovers, Unusual Fire Patterns, and Electrical Fires (Continued)
Jamie Novak
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. IAAI Illinois Chapter Meeting
5:30 p.m. - Midnight Hospitality Room
Sunday, March 23, 2014
8 a.m. - Noon Cellulose Insulation Fires
Todd Metzger
Noon Conference Adjourned

Certificates will be available after the conclusion of the Sunday session.


Computer Evidence Recovery
Jeff Knauer, Supervisor, Computer Evidence Recovery Unit, Illinois State Police

Jeff Knauer has been with the Illinois State Police for 24 years. A public service administrator, he currently supervises the Computer Evidence Recovery Unit. For more than 10 years with this unit, Knauer has worked directly with investigators on special investigations into crimes involving digital evidence, including crimes against children and child pornography. He is certified as an Electronic Evidence Collection Specialist and a Forensic Computer Examiner. Knauer is also an EnCase Certified Examiner for Guidance Software and a certified Cellebrite UFED Mobile Device Examiner.

Knauer’s presentation will cover the capabilities of the Illinois State Police Computer Evidence Recovery Unit, an overview of computer forensics and information regarding DVR surveillance units that arson investigators may encounter during the course of their investigations.

Gas Explosions and Flashovers, Unusual Fire Patterns and Electrical Fires
Jamie Novak, Owner and Operator, Novak Investigations, Inc.

James “Jamie” Novak is a Certified Fire Investigator, Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator, licensed private investigator and the owner/operator of Novak Investigations, Inc. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter with the City of Golden Valley in 1979 and soon became a fire inspector and fire investigator for the department.

In 1984, Novak was hired as a Deputy State Fire Marshal for the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office. In 1992, along with his investigative duties, he took on the added role of training coordinator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), where he was responsible for teaching the basic, intermediate and on-scene fire investigations series. In 1996, Novak was hired by the St. Paul Fire Department and currently holds the position of fire investigator. In his more than 33-year career in the fire service and nearly 30 years as an investigator, Novak has conducted more than 2,000 origin and cause investigations involving both fires and/or explosions. He has conducted more than 1,000 live burns and 18 explosions in his quest to uncover and discover the science involved in fire and explosion investigations.

In “Gas Explosions” on Friday, Novak will discuss the properties of both natural and propane gasses, the properties of different level concentrations and explosions, and the properties of odorization of gas. He will also show and discuss the many tests conducted by the Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, including the general methods to investigate gas explosions. The class will include photos and videos of many case studies and gas explosions – both test explosions and real explosions – from around the country.

“Flashovers, Unusual Fire Patterns and Electrical Fires” on Saturday will cover basic fire behavior and a discussion on how it affects fire patterns and fire investigations. Novak will also discuss flashover, how it affects fire patterns and how flashovers may give misleading patterns that look like arson or ignitable liquid burn patterns. The course will feature a discussion on the many misconceptions of fire investigations, including melted metals, holes in the floor, spalling of concrete and low burn patterns. Novak will also show different test burns dispelling many of fire investigation concepts that are no longer true. The electrical fire portion of the program will cover how electricity relates to causing fires, including arcing and igniting materials, arcing versus melting, arc mapping and its use in helping determine a point of origin. Novak will discuss various electrical fires, including high-resistance connections, overload fires and open neutral fires. He will also share information on the use of x-ray in examining electrical evidence for fire cause and the spoliation of evidence in fire investigations. Many case studies and videos will be shown to help participants understand the role electricity plays in the cause of, and investigation into, fires.

Cellulose Insulation Fires
Todd Metzger, P.E., Mechanical Engineer, Schaefer Engineering

Todd Metzger holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri - Rolla. He is responsible for mechanical engineering projects at Schaefer Engineering, Wentzville, Missouri. Metzger’s experience includes an emphasis on mechanical design analysis, product failure analysis, gas-fired appliance fire evaluation, solid fuel-fired appliance fire evaluation and vehicle fire evaluation. Along with other Schaefer Engineering associates, Metzger has conducted extensive research and testing in the area of fireplace, chimney and cellulose insulation as they relate to fire causation. His mechanical engineering expertise includes process industrial equipment, manufacturing equipment and product design. Metzger also has prior experience as a firefighter and law enforcement officer in central Missouri.

Metzger’s presentation will include an introduction to and terminology related to factory-built fireplaces and chimneys. He will also cover investigative techniques as they relate to cellulose insulation and factory-built fireplaces and chimneys, case studies, standards and codes review. Metzger will lead a discussion of how fireplaces and chimneys can be an ignition source and how to test a hypothesis involving cellulose insulation, fireplaces and/or chimneys. He will also review how cellulose insulation reacts to specific heat sources.

Disclaimer: No liability is assumed by the Central Illinois Fire Investigators Association for changes in program content, speakers, or venue. The speakers presentation and content of program are the responsibility of the individual instructors and not necessarily endorsed by any of the persons or organizations associated with this seminar.

Hotel Information

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Stoney Creek Inn
101 Mariners Way
East Peoria, IL 61611
(309) 694-1300
(800) 659-2220

Indoor / outdoor heated pool, dry sauna, whirlpool spa, fitness center, free wireless internet and free continental breakfast.

$77 plus taxes per room per night
for reservations made before February 17, 2014.

To hold your room(s) on a guaranteed arrival basis, contact the hotel at (309) 694-1300 before February 17, 2014. Tell them you are attending the Central Illinois Fire Investigators Conference to receive the conference rate.

This is the same weekend as the Illinois High School Association State Basketball Tournament, so hotel space will be at a premium! Book now to ensure you get a room. In the event no rooms are available at the Stoney Creek Inn by the time you register, the Par-A-Dice Hotel and the Holiday Inn Express (East Peoria) are both within easy driving distance.


Country Financial Insurance

FireTech, Inc.

Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co.

Hazard, Keefe & Leane Engineering

Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen Law Office
    Midwest Fire Consultant

Schaefer Engineering

Semke Forensics

Webster Mechanical Engineering

West Peoria Fire Department


The Miller/Grier Memorial Scholarship was established in 1991 in honor of two founding CIFIA members and State Arson Investigators, Hollis Miller and James Grier. The conference established the funding and promotes the scholarships that are offered semi-annually.

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