International Group Gives High Marks to Texas State Fire Marshal’s Review of Arson Cases

December 15, 2015

The International Association of Arson Investigators, a training and certification organization based in Maryland, has recognized the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office for its approach to reviewing fire science used in past arson convictions to make sure it meets current standards and is calling on other states to follow the Texas model.

“The group of experts in Texas has worked closely with local and state officials to review past fire investigations,” the organization said. “Every state should have a similar review panel.”

The fire marshal’s office created the Science Advisory Workgroup on the recommendation of the Texas Forensic Science Commission in 2012. The workgroup was charged with reviewing arson convictions where modern scientific and technical research now called into question the methodology used in the original fire investigation. Of nine cases reviewed by the workgroup, five cases did not support a finding of arson while two cases did support arson and two cases were inconclusive. The findings were shared with local prosecutors.

“This has been a collaborative and transparent process to look at prior arson cases in the full light of current science,” said Texas Fire Marshal Chris Connealy. “We were fortunate to have the considerable expertise of the workgroup to help us with this effort.”

The association has endorsed the use of multidiscipline science review panels to its 8,300 members worldwide.

Source: International Association of Arson Investigators

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