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Community Risk Reduction from an Investigator’s Point of View, presented by Rick Freier

July 22 @ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm


Alabama Fire College & Personnel Standards & Education Commission

Community Risk Reduction from an Investigator’s Point of View
Presented by: Rick Freier, Spokane Valley (WA) Fire Investigator

Sponsored by: Alabama Coalition of Community Risk Reduction Educators and the Alabama Fire College

As investigators, our job is to determine how a fire started. Our goal should be to use this information to prevent fires in the future. As an investigator, you routinely deal with kids ages 12 to 16. This age group is responsible for thousands of fires every year. What if we could change that? Forensic Fire Investigation 101 is a middle school science class designed to reduce the number of fires, and the number of kids caught setting them. The program has been presented to more than 9,000 kids over a 10-year period, and the results speak for themselves. The number of fires has dropped and the number of kids ages 12 to 16 caught setting fires each year went from five or more to averaging less than one per year over the last 5 years.

About the Speaker:

Richard E. Freier
First Sergeant USMC (Retired)

Richard (Rick) Freier started serving his community as a Boy Scout, obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Four days after graduating from Othello High School he joined the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, after serving 20 years and one combat tour he retired in 2010, reaching the rank of First Sergeant (E-8). He is a Christian, a husband, a father of three daughters, and a grandfather.

Rick has worked for the Spokane Valley Fire Department for 23 years. He’s currently a Firefighter/PIO and has been a fire investigator for more than 17 years. As a fire investigator for the SVFD, he was a commissioned law enforcement officer for 9 years and an accelerant detection K9 handler for 5 years. He has worked as a private investigator, determining fire origin and cause for the insurance industry. Rick has investigated more than 800 fire scenes in his career. He is a member of the International Association of  Arson Investigators (IAAI) and a former President of the IAAI Washington Chapter. He is an IAAI Certified Fire Investigator and Instructor.

He has taught the basic fire investigation course at the Pacific Northwest Fire Investigation Symposium for six years, presented at the Fire Protection Institute in Chelan Washington multiple times, and presented at the 2017 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Expo in Boston, MA, and presented at the 2022 Vision 20/20 Symposium. He believes that a fire investigator’s mission should be to use the information they collect to prevent fires in the future. He is an International Code Council (ICC) Certified Fire Inspector and has training in fire protections systems and fire prevention programs.

In 2011, Rick created a middle school program based on the Scientific Method designed to inform the kids about the consequences of playing with fire. This presentation was designed to reduce the number of fires started by children 12 to 16 years old. Over the course of 10 years, this program has been presented to more than 9300 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. The number of fires in the community and the number of kids starting fires has declined. It is Rick’s hope that this program can be duplicated in other jurisdictions across the country.