International Association of Arson Investigators

Nebraska Chapter #13

Celebrating 50 Years


One thing constant in the fire service is that of tradition.  With tradition comes pride.  The Nebraska Chapter #13 of the International Association of Arson Investigators prides itself on exceptional education provided to its members through an annual educational conference, additional mini-conferences, scholarship grants for advanced training, and networking capabilities for fire investigators. This year, the IAAI NE Chapter is celebrating 50 years of membership.  It was originally formed in 1969 by a group of investigators (both private and public) committed to combating arson within Nebraska.  It was understood that the corner stone of any fire investigation was the need to better understand how fires start in order to better attack the fire and assist with addressing the crime of arson. 


Unfortunately, a loss of early records meant a loss for most of the chapter’s early history.  However, through interviews and information, that was either located or recovered, some of this information can be presented here.  The chapter was formed and the first meeting was held in the western part of the state in late 1969.  Since then, the annual meeting and educational conferences have changed locations to be offered throughout the state. 


To promote and educate the most up-to-date training and information available, the Nebraska Chapter has prided itself on hosting a combination of qualified speakers each year.  These speakers range from our own members providing training to nationally known speakers, such as Dave Campbell, Joe Toscano, John Dehaan, Jamie Novak, Randy Watson and James Grimm to name a few.  In addition to speakers, the Nebraska Chapter is also known for conducting actual live burn demonstrations during training events.  The Nebraska Chapter was one of the first IAAI chapters to implement the burn cell during training.  Currently we will acquire real structures (both residential and commercial) for burn scenario situations which investigators can conduct actual hands on fire scene investigations.  This type of training has attracted membership from surrounding states and even participation from people as far away as Kuwait. 


Two of Nebraska’s Chapter members have gone on to serve as IAAI Presidents.  John Primrose from 1987-1988. Bob Whitemore from 1993-1994.  Bob Whitemore became the first president to take the oath of office while outside of the United States.


The Nebraska Chapter supported the first K-9 Certification Program for the Canine Accelerant Detection Association (CADA) in 1994, which was hosted in Lincoln, NE.  Nebraska has embraced the use of Accelerant Detection Canines with several members who have or currently handle K9’s.


In 2005 Nebraska partnered with South Dakota and Iowa IAAI Chapters to host the first regional conference in this area.  The regional conference was established to again provide quality speakers and quality topics for fire investigation and also allow for additional networking between regional investigators.  Since this time, Nebraska and Iowa have partnered to host 2 additional joint conferences; one in 2008 and another in 2016.


The Nebraska Chapter of the IAAI is proud to celebrate its 50th year as part of the IAAI. Our membership is approximately 60 members strong and continues to advance with additional knowledge and educational opportunities. Thank you to the IAAI and all its membership for your continued support of not only each individual chapters but to better fire investigation training and education as a whole.