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Fatal Fire and Mass Disaster Scene Recovery

Primary Course Instructors: Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D-ABFA; Joe Adserias-Garriga, DDS, Ph.D., D-ABFO; Sp. Agent Michael J Hochrein, FBI, Ret.; and Cpl. C. Todd Jester, OSHP, Ret.
The five-day course is designed to introduce participants to the basics of properly processing rather complex and difficult fire and mass disaster scenes involving human victims. The course will cover the basics of scene documentation (written, photographic, and cartographic [mapping] means) of both burned structures and car fires. The effects of fire and heat on soft and hard biological tissues will also be detailed. Forensic cases and the protocols developed as part of the U.S. National Institute of Justice Grant #2008- DN-BX-K131 will be discussed. Nationally-recognized standards (Weldon Spring and Clarence Center Protocols) developed, tested, and published by the course directors will be presented and demonstrated. The course will discuss past recovery efforts at incidents such as the USAir Flight 427, ColganAir Flight 3407, and United Flight 93 (9/11), as well as the prioritization of various types of evidence associated with these incidents and scenes. An emphasis will be placed on demonstrating and utilizing the multiple levels of scene mapping equipment including electronic total stations, high-end GPS units, 3D scanners, and mapping and documentation drones. We have moved the course to a venue in Gettysburg, PA, less than a mile from the battlefields, in which we now have 200 acres of woods and field and ponds to take advantage of a wide variety of mock scenarios. Plus, Gettysburg offers much in terms of Civil War history.

This course is offered in conjunction with Tripwire Operations Group.

Download our syllabus here

October, 2023 in Gettysburg, PA

January, 2024 in Tampa, FL


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Course Location: Gettysburg, PA and Tampa, FL


Course Participants: Individuals over 18yrs of age. Limed to 20 participants.

  1. College and University students (undergraduate and graduate);

  2. College professors and instructors (teaching classes in Forensic Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Forensic Science, Criminalistics, Medicolegal Death Investigation, and Criminal Law); and

  3. Professionals in law enforcement, criminal investigation, medicolegal death investigation, and the legal profession (prosecutors, defense attorneys).

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