Senior Investigator | GiFireE, (IAAI-FIT CFI) (NAFI-CEFI) APAEWE
Keith’s professional career includes 30 years within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Staffordshire Fire Service. He has been involved in many different emergency service positions including Fire Fighter, Crew and Watch Manager and Station Commander, Fire Investigation Officer, National Project Manager, Operational Intelligence Officer, Operational Assurance Officer, Assistant Area Commander, Lead Training Instructor and certified Fire Safety Inspecting Officer. Keith has investigated the cause and origin at incidents of fire and explosions within the Fire and Rescue Service for 14 years.
As part of his Station Commander role and as a Fire Investigator, he undertook fire investigation and explosions where part of this role which included gathering photographic and physical evidence, conducting investigations to documentation of onsite conditions. These investigations also included interviewing witnesses and evidence/data gathering and research. Evidence gathered allowed the preparation of oral and written reports that documented the cause of fire and or explosion. This position also allowed him the experience in preparing and giving expert witness testimony in Court.
Keith joined the private sector in 2018 and has conducted investigations in USA, Poland, France and the UK. Keith has also conducted international training webinars both in the UK and in Africa.
Keith has been responsible for writing National Policy and Procedures for operational intelligence and operational assurance. His previous role as Resilience Manager was to ensure that the Regional Delivery Plan on Pandemic Flu, Flooding, Terrorism, natural disasters etc, and successfully implemented on behalf of the Regional Resilience Partnership and Scottish Government Departments. Within this role Keith has National Security Clearance (SC), due to the sensitive and secretive details and information which he was exposed to a daily basis.
Keith has completed national certifications and qualification as Fire Investigator, Fire Behaviour Instructor, Fire Safety and Accident Investigation Officer. Furthermore, he has participated in the designs, deliver and instructing of educational fire related courses across three Fire and Rescue Services. He is also a member of the United Kingdom Association of Fire Investigators (UK-AFI), Internationa Association Arson Investigators (IAAI), National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) and Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE). He also has a degree in Fire and Rescue Service Management.
Keith has been recognised for his achievements throughout his career, he is in receipt of awards that include; Government Commendation for the Lockerbie Air Disaster, Chief Officer Health and Safety Award, Prime Minister Commendation for Services to the Fire and Rescue Service.
What inspired you to enter the fire and explosion investigation industry?
I was a young 18 year old firefighter at the Lockerbie air disaster in Scotland in 1988. I became fascinated by the forensics people on the ground and how they carried out their investigation into the crash, their methodology, their systematic approach which was inspiring. As I progressed through my career, colleagues would always tell me that I had a great investigative mind and fire investigation became my nemesis. After 30 years in the fire service, I moved over to the insurance world in 2018 and have gained so much knowledge from other investigators together with my own continuous personal development which has allowed me to develop my skills at any fire scene which I am confronted with.
Can you tell us about the most interesting or rewarding case you’ve investigated?
I attended a scene in Poland. The job sheet stated it was a warehouse, approximately the size of a football pitch. In reality it was double the size of the football pitch due to the fire crews removing the debris to extinguish the fire. Not only was this challenging due to the scale of the area but also the foreign language barrier. I managed to interview and gain golden nuggets of information that would lead me to the area of origin.
On examination of the area, I questioned the content and found that a makeshift humidifier machine was the root cause. This was due to the electrical heater coming into contact with water creating a short circuit within the heater.
What do you most enjoy about working in the fire and explosion investigation industry?
Getting hands on and uncovering the truth from the debris that you are confronted with. I enjoy bouncing hypotheses with colleagues and having the challenge from them to test my hypothesis. I believe this creates a healthy environment to be in when you are challenged by others. It's my passion to establish exactly what happened.
What is your main area of interest or speciality, and why is this area important to you?
I love every investigation as they all have different dimensions. But I do like incidents with ignitable liquids and how they can change a fire dramatically. Learning how they react to various ignition sources I find fascinating.
Why did you choose to join Fire Forensics?
Two years ago I was at a conference which Belinda was presenting at and I was impressed by her knowledge and delivery. It had always been an ambition of my family to move to Australia but the chances never came along. Whilst at the conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Belinda, we exchanged business cards and a year later I was invited for interview. After researching the company had a great ethos and encouraged young graduates in the forensic world. I also found that Jim was a guro in the fire investigation world and knew immediately he would be a great mentor to support me through the rest of my career with fire forensics.
Can you share your proudest career moment?
I was nominated by the Prime Minister for my outstanding services to the Fire and Rescue Service. This involved attending an evening with him and his wife at 10 Downing Street in London.
What are you most looking forward to achieving with Fire Forensics in 2022?
Continuing to gain experiences and new skills in a field that I love and enjoy.
What are your favourite things to do during your down-time?
I enjoy sports; playing and watching. I swim almost everyday and I take part in fitness classes four nights a week. We have a dog called Teddy who is great fun and I enjoy walking him everyday. I am a keen fisherman and enjoy relaxing by the water and watching the sun set.