Discusses fire investigation, beginning with an overview of the science of fire investigation, which is used to determine fire cause and other details. Common misconceptions of arson investigations are dispelled, and the role of the fire investigator in criminal cases is explained. Legal context is also given, which specifically considers fire science and miscarriages of justice, as well as the importance of circumstantial evidence in cases of alleged arson.
Vladimir (Val) Chlistovsky, BASc, CFEI, CVFI, PEng, is the practice lead of the fire group at Giffin Koerth Forensic Engineering. He is an internationally certified fire and explosion investigator and an internationally certified vehicle fire investigator. He has investigated over 600 fires, and is well-recognized as a fire investigation and electrical expert. Mr. Chlistovsky is the vice-president of the Canadian Association of Fire Investigators and holds membership with the National Association of Fire Investigators. Mr. Chlistovsky is also a professional engineer and member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. He actively participates as a technical expert and technical assessor with the Certifying Bodies and Laboratory Accreditation programs with the Standards Council of Canada. In addition to Mr. Chlistovsky’s experience in forensics, he has also spent ten years in the insurance industry working for FM Global in heavy machinery and equipment appraisal and seven years in a manufacturing setting as a production and approvals engineer.
Caitlin M. Pakosh, HBSc, JD, has been working as case management counsel of Innocence Canada (formerly known as AIDWYC) since 2012 and is responsible for managing the Association’s cases across Canada. She obtained her honours bachelor of science degree, specializing in forensic anthropology and earning a minor in biology, from the University of Toronto Mississauga in 2008. Her undergraduate thesis, which examined the decomposition of dismembered pig limbs enclosed in plastic bags and submerged in Lake Ontario, was conducted during her internship with the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit and published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 2009. Ms. Pakosh obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Calgary in 2011. She has appeared in the Court of Appeal for Ontario and has worked on intervener and appellate cases that have appeared at a variety of levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as ministerial review applications. Since 2013, Ms. Pakosh has cross-examined forensic science students in annual mock trials at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where students practise being expert witnesses. She is a member of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is also an associate member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Canadian Society of Forensic Science.