Arson truck to visit campus to give criminal justice majors hands-on training

A raging flame can lay waste to a home or building, but, even in the destruction, clues are left behind.

Radford University seniors in the criminal justice seminar "Arson Investigation" will be searching for those clues when the Virginia Department of Fire Programs' mobile burn trailer visits campus on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

"The students will get the chance to experience the methodology of an actual fire investigation," said Course Instructor Todd Jones '91, an investigator with the Virginia Farm Bureau and former Radford City Police detective.

The mobile burn trailer is a high-tech learning tool in which operators can set up scenes like a bedroom, kitchen or office, and then set them ablaze. The trailer will then vent the dangerous smoke, allowing arson investigation trainees to examine the scene left behind.

Virginia's various fire departments and civic branches typically use the trailers for professional training and emergency preparedness functions. There are only three trailers of this type in the nation, two of which are in Virginia.

"Arson Investigation" is a unique course this semester, open to RU criminal justice seniors who have learned about topics such as law enforcement, corrections and the judiciary in their academic career. The new seminar has allowed them to get an idea of the career of a professional fire investigator.


The Virginia Department of Fire Programs' mobile burn trailer

Joining RU students and faculty for the event will be firefighters, members of the Department of Fire Programs and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, all of whom will have professional advice to offer students.

"These students are excited to work with a real fire site and these professionals," Jones said. "They're very engaged and ready to get in there and work the scene."

The mobile burn trailer exercise will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m., during the normal "Arson Investigation" meeting time.

The Department of Criminal Justice offers an interdisciplinary and professionally oriented academic curriculum concentrating on many aspects of crime and the concepts that impact the system of justice. The program seeks to develop a broad foundation of knowledge pertaining to crime and its ancillary issues.


The Virginia Department of Fire Programs' mobile burn trailer

Nov 11, 2014