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Singapore IOSH Networking Night

30 January 2018

Topic: Fire Expert-My life in Fire-by David Townsend

On 30th Jan 2018, Singapore IOSH branch has organized its first event to kick off this wonderful 2019, David Townsend was invited as the speaker on that night to give the sharing give the sharing about fire investigation, David Townsend has engaged his whole life with fire-fighting and fire investigation, his topic on that night is about” Fire Expert-my life in fire”.

Below is the feedback from one IOSH Chartered Felllow Tim Briggs his personal feedbacks about that event:

“The evening event at Singapores IOSH Branch on Wednesday 30th January was a presentation by David Townsend. David was explaining about his work as a Fire Investigator. Many people may be under the impression that once a building structure or object has caused damage through fire or explosion that the results are just burning, charring or obvious damage. David was very good at explaining that each fire has its own characteristics, and every explosion leaves evidence of actual cause. David also highlighted the need to be able to relate how if you approach people correctly you can get clues as to where causes or potential causes may have occurred, highlighting for me the importance of being able to communicate with people. Communicating to people is something sometimes our profession needs to improve upon.

For me as a safety practitioner examining workplaces I have always concentrated on the fire triangle, looking to exclude or minimise the fuel source or alternatively reduce the heat source. Looking at immediate areas. Very much like a murder scene, where the shape of the bloodstain pattern will depend greatly on force used as well as the type of instrument used, David very articulately explained that each fire has separate significant distinguishing features. And by knowing the distinguishing features helps him to track back to the seat of the fire or cause of the explosion. Again David eloquently explained the importance of understanding and predicting the behaviour of people, and relating the many human or business common causes of failure, lack of training, lack of supervision, inadequate planning, lack of information as being principle elements in any incident he may have examined.

For me as a Safety Practitioner, after listening to David explain his work, it made me realise that not only do I need to consider seats of fuel or heat sources, but also to track a potential pattern of fuel source, as well as examining a broader area for potential heat sources, that may ignite fuel sources.

Davids work is very complex, but again he highlighted the need to have the required skill aligned with advanced learning to be able to predict how explosions or fires may have occurred. A stark lesson for Safety Practitioners we all need to continue learning and developing our knowledge skills and abilities to be able to function effectively and develop ourselves effectively.

By listening to David I was able to diagnose some problems with how I may have undertaken my work, but now I need to practice and develop the learning that has occurred to improve my own ability. I am certain everyone in the room should have been able to gain knowledge from Davids session.”