A New Method for the Characterization of the Degree of Fire Damage to Gypsum Wallboard for Use in Fire Investigations

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Abstract

A new method to characterize the degree of fire damage to gypsum wallboard is introduced, implemented, and tested to determine the efficacy of its application among novices. The method was evaluated by comparing degree of fire damage assessments of novices with and without the method. Thirty-nine “novice” raters assessed damage to a gypsum wallboard surface, completing 66 ratings, first without the method, and then again using the method. The inter-rater reliability was evaluated for ratings of damage without and with the method. For novice fire investigators rating degree of damage without the aid of the method, ICC(1,2) = 0.277 with 95% CI (0.211, 0.365), and with the method, ICC(2,1) = 0.593 with 95% CI (0.509, 0.684). Results indicate that the raters were more reliable in their analysis of the degree of fire damage when using the method, which support the use of standardized processes to decrease the variability in data collection and interpretation.

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