Michigan State Police hosts 72nd Fire Investigation School

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PORTLAND, Mich. (WLNS) – “I think it’s still the fuel.”

“That’s what you’re getting a sample of, of the fuel?”

“Yeah I think we’re all gonna take samples of it because we have to.”

Investigating fires is difficult.

“There’s always a potential that it could be challenged,” Michigan State Police Training Sergeant Jeff

Michigan State Police Training Sergeant Jeff Yonker is leading the way today at the 72nd fire school, the first step to become a fire investigator.

“Fire investigation is very unique,” Yonker said. “No two scenes are the same. There’s always learning opportunities.”

There are learning opportunities for both fire and police.

“We have law enforcement personnel as well as fire personnel,” Yonker said. “The fire personnel here are gearing toward or setting themselves up to become fire investigators.”

Michigan State Trooper Mark Andrews is a new student who has been with the state police for four years.

“I mean you’ve got a lot of experience here,” Andrews said. “From the instructors to the students themselves, they have a lot of input. A lot of these guys have 20 plus years with their fire department, law enforcement agency.”

From police to fire departments, and an aviation unit with a drone, students and instructors learn from each other.

“We’ll document them and then eventually through our investigation they’ll go up to the Michigan Crime Lab.”

Andrews says nothing beats hands-on experience.

“Coming here and actually looking at a house that went through the burn stages itself, that’s huge,” Andrews said. “I mean you can’t replace that in a classroom.”

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