The Advanced Fire and Arson Training Complex (AFATC) provides innovative advanced fire science-based training to ATF's certified fire investigators (CFIs) with courses available to local, state, federal and international fire investigators. Additionally, AFATC is used for ATF’s National Response Teams and CFI annual training exercises.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers designed, constructed and certified AFATC in 2016. The building’s concept significantly expanded ATF’s training capabilities with two huge multi-story burn cells that allow for more realistic and complex fire investigator training scenarios in a safe environment.
AFATC is located at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The state-of-the-art facility is one of ATF’s three complexes with burn cells that provide fire and arson training. Other locations include the National Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia and the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The one-of-a-kind training complex features a burn cell range with two 12.5’ x 17.75’ x 12’ flashover cells and a student viewing platform. Three large 33’ x 17.5’ x 12’ single-story burn cells allow for multiple room configurations and two 25’ x 17’ two-story burn cells allow for multi-level flow path fire pattern evaluation to allow students to figure out how the fire started. In addition to the burn cells, the range has a 32’ x 40’ x 17’ vehicle and equipment staging building and five 32’ x 50’ x 14’ operational buildings for prop storage, rehabilitation materials and fire scene processing equipment and supplies. AFATC also has a range classroom with integrated audio/visual capabilities and additional breakout space for students.
Highly trained CFIs and other experts in their field teach AFATC courses which includes courses for the CFI Candidate Program. During the two-year program, students learn fire dynamics, evidence collection and building construction. For ATF special agents to become CFIs, they must complete the two-year training program, defend a thesis project and pass the CFI exam administered by the International Association of Arson Investigators.
AFATC also provides the Advanced Origin and Cause/Courtroom Testimony (AOCCT) course. AOCCT is one of the most advanced training programs available to public fire investigators. Students learn how to draft an origin and cause report from the practical exercise scene. They also practice testifying as expert witnesses and defending their findings in front of highly experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys in a mock courtroom.
In addition, AFATC offers courses to prosecutors including Arson for Prosecutors and Arson and Explosives for U.S. Attorneys. Arson for Prosecutors is a three-day course offered in the field and the other is a four-day course taught at NCETR. Both of these courses allow prosecutors to learn basic fire investigation principles and techniques to prosecute arson cases.
For questions about AFATC or its courses, please email AOCCT@atf.gov. For investigators or prosecutors interested in training options, please contact Fire Programs and Training Branch Chief Billy Stapleton at 256-261-7629.
To apply for a specific training course, please fill out the Arson and Explosives Training Request for Non-ATF Employees.