Belinda Jane (BJ) Jones
Managing Director / Senior Investigator | BA, BSc, MSc, Grad Dip FI, IAAI-CFI
BJ is a triple Graduate in Law & Administration (Canberra), Applied Chemistry with Honours (UTS), and Psychological Science (UNSW). She has a Masters Degree in Forensic Science, with a thesis relating to fire investigation, and a Graduate Diploma of Fire Investigation from Charles Sturt University. She has also studied with Gardiner Associates in the UK, completing the Joint Services foundation and practical courses and the Advanced Fire and Explosion course presented by Dr John DeHaan. She has completed a Certificate III in electronics to assist in the identification of electrical fire causes in ITC equipment. She also has a Post-Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies, awarded for a study of forensic science requirements in a polar setting.
BJ worked as a civilian crime scene examiner with the NSW Police Force and is skilled in physical evidence recovery techniques. She then worked as a fire investigator for a major Australian insurance group prior to joining JW Munday & Associates in 2010. She has investigated over 500 fires and explosions in a wide variety of structures, vehicles, machinery and equipment and has given expert evidence in NSW and Tasmanian courts.
BJ is an active member of several professional organisations including the IAAI, where she is a member of the Ethical Practices and Grievances Committee.
BJ has taken over Fire Forensics (formerly JW Munday & Associates) from Jim, who is gently stepping back. The team at Fire Forensics has been growing since this transition, and the future for the business is bright.
What inspired you to enter the fire and explosion investigation industry?
I like puzzles and wanted a job with the most variety I could find. This seemed to fit both bills.
Can you tell us about the most interesting or rewarding case you’ve investigated?
Mozambique was definitely the most challenging. Mine fires are always interesting, but add to this an African country, intense heat, Malaria tablets, with mystery meat (aka offal) and no salad (due to cholera) at the cafeteria and the setting was crazy intense. Added to this, I was not just asked to do my own origin and cause investigation, but to lead a team of international investigators from different interested parties through a group investigation over a period of two weeks on behalf of the mine. It was a roller coaster. Over my time there, there was theft of diesel fuel from excavators by staff, union unrest on site, organised crime in teams working the machines and dodgy security trying to influence the investigation. It was a total eye opener.
What is your main area of interest or speciality, and why is this area important to you?
Heavy machinery fires for sure. Always interesting and whilst they may appear as complex machines, breaking down faults, failures or weird accidental events which all line up on that one day to cause a fire is the most interesting of puzzle for me. The fire behaviour does conform to rules, and overlaying this onto a complex machine I find fascinating.
What do you most enjoy about working in the fire and explosion investigation industry?
The constant variety of work. No two jobs are the same. They don’t look the same, events are different and the knowledge required means I am constantly learning different things. My happy place.
What do you believe sets Fire Forensics apart from other investigation companies?
I have tried, with Jim to build a company that supports other investigators to follow their natural interests and inclinations within the realm of fire science. So that they can become specialists in a range of areas which in the end, benefit the company. We value professional development and invest heavily in this area in our team. With the team being great well rounded and also specialised investigators, the business thrives. We are running the long game in the more scrutinised area of fire science and forensic science. We need to and are keeping ahead of the curve in knowledge and science.
Can you share your proudest career moment?
Being asked by Jim to take over the company to keep it growing and living on past him stepping back. It was a huge honour given Jim is so well known and respected in the field.
What are you most looking forward to achieving with Fire Forensics in 2021?
We have a few things in the works, but post Covid consolidating the business and getting through the year seems like an achievement in itself.
What are your favourite things to do during your down-time?
I am a mad gardener with chickens and bees.. So growing my own veg and sustainability is high on the list. I also dabble in rock climbing and scuba diving. Being a total nerd, I am always studying something random and interesting on the side lines.