Velazco

Fire and Explosion Investigations

Services

Our Origin and Cause investigations are based on the "Scientific Method" and follow a "Systematic Approach" to investigations, according to generally accepted principles of fire and explosions scene investigations.

We conduct our investigations working in a systematic fashion, working from the area of least damage to the area of most damage. We establish and control the scene perimeter, documenting our investigation with notes, reports, sketches, schematic drawings, and digital photographs. We can also digitally video record the scene when necessary.

Our tools and equipment are decontaminated prior to their used in the scene, and our investigators are mindful of the accepted "de-contamination" protocols of the fire or explosion scenes.

With over thirty years of experience in Fire Scene and Post Blast Scene Investigations and after having conducted over 1500 scene investigations, we have the resources and experience to conduct both large scale as well as the less complex scene investigations. We have the experience of having participated in several large scale and prolonged investigations such as the DuPont Plaza Fire in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the UNABOM bombing investigation at Yale University, in New Haven, CT, the Los Angeles Riots Fires, Los Angeles, CA, TWA Flight 800 scene investigation, at Pt. Moriches, New York, the Abortion Clinic Bombing in Birmingham, AL, as well as the United States Pentagon Incident of Sept. 11, 2001.

Luis Velazco has worked fires and explosions through out the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America. He is an ATF Certified Fire Investigator since 1991, Cert. No. 02-15, and ATF Certified Explosives Specialist since 1986, Cert. No. 86-24, and a Hazardous Materials Technician in accordance with (EPA 165.5) since June 9, 1995. He is U.S. Department State Certified as fluent in Spanish, and has contacts in associates throughout these regions.

Luis Velazco Investigation Inc., can provide Origin and Cause Investigations in both Fires and Explosion incidents; Consultations on Investigations or General Investigative Services.

We can also provide Expert Witness Services, for Trails and Trail; Preparations, as well as Depositions.

Luis Velazco, is a nationally and internationally known lecturer on effective investigative techniques and solutions for Law Enforcement, Fire Service, Insurance Industry and Legal Professionals. His expertise includes Fire Origin and Cause Determination, Post Blast Scene Investigations, Large Loss Investigation Management, Curriculum Development, SIU (Special Investigation Units) Training, Subrogation and Fraud Investigations.

Luis Velazco, is a Member of ATF Associates, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and the Georgia Fire Investigators Association, the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, and the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention.

Training

For the past thirty years the focus of our training has been investigations, during which we have specialized in both fire scene and explosives incidents investigation. This training culminated in Certifications as a Fire Investigator (Cert. No. 02-15) and as an Explosives Specialist (Cert. No. 86-24). In addition this training prepared us to be a member of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) National Response Team, and the International Response Team, allowing for further training in both fire scene and explosives scene investigation.

For the last ten years of my career as a Special Agent / CFI, CES, I was assigned to the ATF National Academy, as the Program Manager responsible for Federal, State, Local and International Arson and Explosives Investigations Training Programs.

IAAI Certification since August, 2000 (Certificate No. 08-080517)

These training programs were developed and established with the sole purpose of preparing investigators in the field of fire and explosives post blast  and post fire  scene investigations.

These programs have been used to prepare investigators with the knowledge and experience of how to conduct scene investigations. They learn the most up to date techniques and practices with respect to scene processing and examination, contamination issues, evidence collection and preservation, scene documentation, witness interviews and report writing.

Luis Velazco Investigations Inc. can offer training seminars on both Post Blast and Post Fire (Origin and Cause) scene investigations and scene and case management. These presentations can be conducted one to three days sessions, and can even involve live fire demonstrations depending of the training site and facilities (provided).

Experience

Since attending the Hartford Police Department Training Academy on October of 1970, one of my goals has been to "Serve and Protect" just like the motto that you see posted on police cruisers throughout this country. Initially, it was a rather simplistic thought, I felt because I was fluent in Spanish, I could help the Spanish community communicate their problems or complaints to those who could help resolve their problems.

Later on I felt I could use those language abilities to identify and bring to justice those who were preying on the weak or unable to speak out and complain about crimes and injustices.

As my experiences in law enforcement grew I saw my position not only as a place to help other but also as an opportunity to better myself by the training provided, and by taking advantage of the opportunities to further my education. The additional education, lead to greater opportunities in the law enforcement field. First as a Federal Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and later specializing in Fire and Explosion Scene Investigation.

My position as a Certified Fire Investigator and Certified Explosives Specialist, member of the ATF National Response Team (NRT) and the International Response Team (IRT), has afforded me the opportunities to participate in several significant incidents which have taken place in resent history, and to conduct fire scene investigations and training in interesting locations.

Du Pont Plaza Fire, San Juan, Puerto Rico
As a member of the Northeast National Response Team, I had the opportunity to respond to this major fire loss, assigned to the interview team. We faced the challenge of locating an interviewing, the survivors of the incidents, both guest of the hotels as well as employees.

My first interview was with a security guard, Rafael Vargas, who had been hired the week before the fire to monitor activities of the union members (employees). Some of Vargas' responses to questions regarding his actions just before and during the discovery of the fire, set off "red flags" in my mind, and caused me to challenge the truthfulness of his statement.

Vargas was asked to re-visit the scene with the investigators, in order to clear up some of the questions. Vargas did not want to do this, saying that it would be too emotional going back to the scene. He finally agreed when pressured to do so. The next day, when he was to meet the investigators at the scene, he failed to show.

At this time in the investigation, Vargas was suspected of being a "hero type fire setter" based on his alleged actions at the scene and his responses to the questions posed to him by the investigators.

Vargas was eventually located at one of his two part time jobs, and convinced to return to the scene of the fire, along with the investigators. At the scene Vargas was very emotional, crying and carrying on in a way that the investigators suspected that there was something more than just emotions causing his reactions.

A subsequent interview with Vargas, uncovered the fact that the had allegedly observed the conspirators setting the fire, but fearing for his safety had failed to act, and thereby feeling a sense of responsibility for the death of ninety six people, and the injuries to many more.

Having had the opportunity to work an investigation of this magnitude, and having interacted with so many other investigative agencies continued to fuel my desires to learn all that I could about the fire scene and post blast scene investigation.

UNABOM, post blast scene investigation at Yale University
I responded to this incident along with the members of the New Haven Connecticut Arson Task Force, which consisted of personnel from the New Haven Fire and Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police, and the Office of the States Attorney for New Haven County. My expertise in post blast scene investigation came in handy at this incident. We were able to find enough evidence of the explosives device, to be able to match it to other devices which had been sent around the country by the UNABOM suspect, eventually identified as Theodore Kesinski.

L.A. Riots, Los Angeles, California
This response to assist the L.A. City Fire Department with the large number of fire scenes, as a result of the "not guilty" verdict during the Rodney King police brutality trail. I was part of the response by ATF Certified Fire Investigators, to assist with the scene investigations.

All the ATF CFI's who participated helped to conduct over one thousand fire scene investigations and examination in the space of about three weeks. Some of these investigations resulted in arrest and prosecutions of the subjects responsible for setting the fires.

TWA Flight 800 Investigation
The response to the site of the investigation came as part of the investigative assistance provided by the New York ATF Office, in the investigation of this tragic incident. I was assigned to both the "Fire" group and the "Explosives" group who would be looking at the evidence, recovered from the Long Island Sound, and assisted in the reconstruction of the Boeing 747-100.

Not only was this an extremely tragic event due to the large loss of life (230 people perished in this accident), but also the complexity of the investigation, being that all the physical evidence of the incident had to be recovered from the depth of 125 feet at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

All possible scenarios (accidental or a terrorist act) were examined and eventually eliminated, to assure that the possibility of another like event would never happen again.

Abortion Clinic Bombing, Birmingham, Alabama (Eric Rudolph case)
This response was part of the ATF National Response Team activation to this incident and to assist the Birmingham, AL Police department.

This involved working the scene, recover evidence of the explosives device, re-construct the device, and to identify the perpetrator of this heinous act.

My personal activities involved the working of the scene in particular the area of the blast seat of the explosives device, in an attempt to recover device component, which would assist in the reconstruction of the device, and possibly the identification of the bomb maker.

U.S. Pentagon incident, Sept 11, 2001, Washington DC
As all Americans did on this day, I watched the events as they unfolded and were reported on the media. I immediately responded upon being activated to the scene at the Pentagon, in Washington DC, just wanting to do something to help.

The ATF South East and North East National Response Teams responded to field in Pennsylvania, where flight 93 had crashed, and the Pentagon site, to assist with the processing of the scene. I participated in the response to the Pentagon, as part of the Southeast team response, and participated in the scene processing.

In addition to responding to major scene investigations, I have had the opportunity to share some of the knowledge, expertise and experiences while teaching fire scene investigation, post blast scene investigation.

As the Arson and Explosives Programs Manager at the ATF National Academy, I conducted both "live explosives" and "live fire" training sessions. The "live explosives" involved the set up of explosives demonstration, the detonation of explosives devices in vehicles and buildings so that the students could experience what a "real" post blast scene looks like. In addition we conducted a training session on "hands-on" explosives training, where the student constructed and later detonated live explosives devices.

The "live fire" training involved both conducting demonstrations of fire development and progression through a structure, also the setting up of scenarios and setting fire to them, bringing them to the "flashover" phase and then suppressing the fire, so that the student would be conducting a "fresh" fire post fire investigation.

Some of these training scenarios have also been conducted outside of the United States. Some were conducted in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia, San Jose, Costa Rica and Santiago, Chile.

Biography

Luis Velazco has been involved in all aspects of the field of fire investigation, post blast scene investigation and critical incident scene and case management for the past thirty years. He is a nationally and internationally known lecturer on effective investigative techniques and solutions for, Law Enforcement, Fire Service, Insurance Industry and Legal Professions. His expertise includes Fire Origin and Cause Determination, Post Blast Scene Investigation, Large Loss Investigation Management, Curriculum Development, SIU Training, Subrogation and Fraud Investigation.

Professional Experience
Appointed Police Officer, Hartford, Connecticut Department of Police Services (1971)
Appointed Investigator, Hartford, Connecticut Department of Police Services (1976)
Appointed Special Agent, United States Department of the Treasury, BATF (1978)
Assigned to the Bureau of ATF - National Response Team (1986)
ATF Certified Explosives Specialist, Cert. No. 86-24 (1986)
ATF Certified Fire Investigator, Cert. No. 02-15 (1991)
State of Connecticut Certified Fire Investigator (1991)
Assigned to the Bureau of ATF - International Response Team (1991)
Assigned to the ATF National Acade - Explosives Training Manager (1997)
Promoted to the ATF Acade Arson / Explosives Programs Manager (2001)
Has conducted over 1500 Origin and Cause Scene Investigations, including high profile cases such as DuPont Plaza Fire, UNABOM Investigation, L.A. Riots Fires, TWA Flt 800 Investigation, Abortion Clinic Bombing, Birmingham, AL and the U.S. Pentagon Incident of Sept 11, 2001

Teaching Experience and Accomplishments
Course Developer and Instructor in Federal, State, Local and International Fire, Post Blast, Prosecutors and Insurance Investigators Training programs delivered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Brunswick, GA since 1997.
Instructor at Ct. Municipal Police Training Center, Meriden Conn., The Hartford Police Training Acade and The New Haven Police Training Acade. Lectured at the University of New Haven, Div. of Special Studies (Fire Sciences Program), and Yale University School of Law, prosecutions intern program. The New York Fire Dept. Training Acade, New England Associations of Fire Marshals. The Connecticut Chapter IAAI, annual training seminar. Rhode Island Chapter of IAAI, annual training seminar. Florida Chapter IAAI annual training seminar.
International Training Experience Developed and delivered a broad spectrum of educational programs on various fire scene investigations topics and live  fire demonstrations in the following countries Puerto Rico, Colombia, Costa Rica. Developed and delivered post blast scene investigation programs to International student who traveled to the U.S. as part of an International Post Blast Instruction program arrangement with the United States, Department of State, for former Soviet Bloc  Countries as well as Central America and South American Countries.

Honors and Awards
United States Department of the Treasury Albert Gallatin Award  for citizenship (2004)
United States Department of the Treasury High Quality Award  (2001)
(For work at the ATF National Acade New Professional Training Program)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Act or Service Award  (1999)
(For work at the ATF National Acade New Professional Training Program)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Act or Service Award  (1997)
(For work on the investigation of the TWA Flight 800 airplane crash)
Connecticut Chapter of IAAI Distinguished Service Award  (1994)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Act or Service Award  (1992)
(For work in Los Angeles California during the LA Riots Fires)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Act or Service Award  (1991)
(For work on the Bureau of ATF s Drug Fires Program)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Achievement Award  (89 and 90)
(For investigative work at the Hartford Connecticut Post of Duty)
United States Department of the Treasury Special Achievement Award  (1987)
(For investigative work on the Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire)
Certificate of Recognition from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1987)
Re Dupont Plaza Fire, a major hotel fire where 94 people lost their lives.

Education and Certifications
Manchester Conn. Community College, Criminal Justice Degree (1976)
Central Conn. State University, Political Science (98 credit hours)
University of Maryland, Fire Sciences (12 credit hours)
Certified Explosives Specialist, ATF Cert. No. 86-24
Certified Fire Investigator, ATF Cert. No. 02-15
U.S. Department of State tested fluent  in Spanish (2001)
F.L.E.T.C. Certified Law Enforcement Instructor (2004)
F.L.E.T.C. Certified Firearms Training Instructor (2002)
Recognition, as an expert witness  in the Federal District Court of Connecticut and Western District of Massachusetts.

Member
International Association Arson Investigators
International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators
Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention
Georgia Fire Investigators Association

Philosophy

In my law enforcement career, I have had the good fortune of having received good and valuable training, the benefit of experienced partners and friends who have shared their investigative knowledge with me and who helped to guide me in my early development as an investigator.

After specializing in fire and explosion investigations, one of my goals has been to share this expertise with other in the field. This, I hope will be my contribution to this field of Fire and Explosion Investigations, as an attempt to share with my counter parts and to help in the spread the professionalism of the industry.

- The Scientific Method
- The Systematic Approach
- The Ignition Scenario
- The "alternative" theory


These are some of the things that a good professional must consider while he or she is conducting the scene investigation. He should be able to articulate these factors when preparing his report detailing his investigative activities.

Controlling access to the scene, and observing the contamination and de-contamination protocol are steps he must observe if he is to follow the recommended guidelines in the accepted (peer reviewed) industry publications.

(Articles and presentations further explaining these mentioned subjects have been published and/or conducted by Luis Velazco, and are available.)

Licensed Investigator in the State of Georgia and the State of Florida.

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