Organising Committee

Michael Forbes

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Michael has been with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) for 30 years. He was an operational firefighter for 9 years before being promoted to Station Officer in 2003. He has over 16 years’ experience in the Fire Investigation and Research Unit (FIRU) after joining in 2007. He has over 14 years’ experience as a fire investigator where he investigated over 800 fires. He is currently the Acting Manager of FIRU.

He is a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE). He completed the Graduate Certificate in Fire Investigation through Charles Sturt University in 2007.

He is Certified Fire Investigator (IAAI-CFI) in 2013 through the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI).

He is also a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) in 2014 through the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI).

He was the first person to attain the Certified Fire Investigator through the Emergency Management Professionalisation Scheme (EMPS) in 2019 through the Australasian Fire Authority Councils (AFAC).

He was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in 2019 for his work in fire investigation in FRNSW.

He is the current President of the NSW Association of Fire Investigators (Chapter 47 of IAAI) since 2014.

He was awarded the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) Investigator of the Year in April 2023.

He has attended over 50 incidents which involved at least one fatality. He has given expert opinion testimony in court over 20 times.

Mark Pellegrino

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Mark Pellegrino is a Certified Fire Investigator with an additional motor vehicle examination endorsement through the International Association of Arson Investigators – IAAI-CFI (V) and an Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) Senior Associate (CIP) at Firensics, a private forensic fire investigation firm based in Sydney, NSW. He is also the Senior Vice President and Education Officer for the New South Wales Association of Fire Investigators (NSWAFI).

Mr Pellegrino holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BSc) in Forensic Investigation, a Diploma of General Insurance, Certificate IV in Building and Construction, and a Basic Fire Debris Analysis Certificate. He has specialised in forensic fire and explosion investigation since 2010 and has examined well over 1100 thermal incidents involving structures, motor vehicles, machinery, and watercraft.

Bob McKay

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Bob McKay is the Managing Director of McKay Investigation Services & McKay Forensic Investigations. Bob is a Certified Auto Theft Investigator (C.ATI) through the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, a Fire Investigation Technician, with Motor Vehicle specialist endorsement (FIT(V)), holds a Graduate Certificate in Fire Investigation and is a Justice of the Peace in the State of New South Wales.

Bob is currently a member of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, The NSW Association of Fire Investigators, the International Association of Arson Investigators, the Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society and the United Kingdom Association of Fire Investigators.

Bob’s career began in December, 1980, initially as an Insurance Investigator. Since beginning his career Bob has investigated various matters, including workers’ compensation and public liability, products liability, professional indemnity, motor vehicle theft, fire and collision; break enter and steal and fire claims. Bob lectured in private investigation at the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE from 1990 to 2002. In 2017 Bob re-wrote the transport module of Charles Sturt Universities Graduate Diploma In Fire Investigation. In 2018 Bob was invited to present at the Fire In Vehicles Conference (FIVE 2018), held in Borás, Sweden, by the Research Institutes of Sweden.

Bob specialises in vehicle fire origin and cause investigation and has conducted in excess of 200 such investigations since January, 2016.

Sonia Kwasnycia

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Sonia is currently a Fire & CAPI Licenced Factual Investigator with Shire Investigations & All Motor Vehicle Investigations providing factual and fire origin/cause determinations for the insurance industry and other various stakeholders. She was previously a Fire Investigator with Fire Forensics Pty Ltd, a Crime Scene Officer within Fingerprint Operations and Evidence Recovery Unit at NSW Police Force Forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command, a Director of the Australian Institute of Forensic Fire Investigation Pty Ltd, and for a number of years, she was a Casual Academic at the University of Technology Sydney teaching a range of chemistry and forensic science subjects.

Sonia is also a current Committee Member of the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) Ethical Practices and Grievances & Membership Committees. She also holds the certifications NAFI-CFEI, IAAI-FIT and IAAI-ECT.

Shane Bryant

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Shane is a Deputy Captain of the NSW Rural Fire Service & Fire Investigator and is attached to the Fire Investigation and Compliance Unit. He has 35 years of experience as a fire fighter and trainer, with 14 years experience as a Fire Investigator. He has completed hundreds of fire investigations in Wildfire and Structural investigations since completing training both within the NSW RFS and through Charles Sturt University and works closely with Police. Besides his duties conducting Fire Investigations, he mentors other RFS trainee Fire Investigators.

Grant Gatland

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Grant is a Senior Technical Consultant with Envista Forensics based in Sydney. Grant’s career with fire investigations stems from involvement with large industrial fires and explosions (and other insurance related disaster events) throughout South East Asia from the mid 90’s, then the US in early 2000’s and more recently in Oceania since 2015. Most engagements involve insurance or legal related matters, but sometimes include investigations with product design liability issues.