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Fact Sheet - Advanced Fire and Arson Training Complex

May, 2019
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Fast Facts

  1. ATF’s Advanced Fire and Arson Training Complex includes a burn cell range, a range classroom, a student breakout room, a covered shelter student-viewing platform, five large operational buildings and a vehicle/equipment staging building.

  2. ATF’s state-of-the-art burn cell range allows flexibility in constructing realistic fire scene scenarios demonstrating complex fire phenomena for practical exercises.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Advanced Fire and Arson Training Complex located at the National Center for Explosives Training and Research in Huntsville, Ala., was constructed to provide innovative advanced fire science based training to ATF Certified Fire Investigators (CFI) and other federal, state and local fire investigators and prosecutors.

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The burn cell range consists of two 12.5’ x 17.75’ x 12’ flashover cells with a student viewing platform, three large 33’ x 17.5’ x 12’ single story burn cells allowing multiple room configurations, and two 25’ x 17’ two story burn cells. 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 equipment and fire scene processing equipment and supplies. The complex also has a completely renovated range classroom with integrated audio/visual capabilities and additional breakout space for students to work in teams during practical exercises. 

ATF utilizes the Advanced Fire and Arson Training Complex to provide an Advanced Origin and Cause/Courtroom Testimony course to state and local fire investigators. This course is designed to enhance the origin and cause investigative skills of the public service fire investigator. The goal of the course is to provide fire investigators with requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to systematically determine the origin and cause of a fire and to present these findings to a prosecutor and a jury in all subsequent judicial proceedings. The course involves the in-depth study of fire dynamics, fire chemistry, electrical fire causation, burn pattern analysis and fire scene documentation through classroom lectures and practical exercises. The curriculum also includes damage dynamics, report writing, appliance fires, fatality fire investigations, fuel air explosions, current case law related to fire investigation, expert testimony, trial preparation and National Fire Protection Association 921 and 1033. The curriculum involves fire scene processing with an emphasis on the practical applications of scientific knowledge. Participants are required to process fire scenes utilizing the scientific method and “team concept,” as well as prepare technical reports documenting their findings for use in court proceedings as an expert witness. At the completion of the course, a written test is administered, a final practical exercise and a mock trial designed to prepare participants to testify as an expert witness. 

The course is designed for experienced fire investigators and is highly advanced and technical in nature. Because of the advanced level of this course, participants must meet minimum background prerequisites for attendance. A full list of prerequisites and application submission instructions can be located at




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