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Employee Spotlight: Rodney Sanders

J.S. Held’s Inaugural Global Risk Report Examines Potential Business Risks & Opportunities in 2024

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April 8, 2021
 
Rodney Sanders, Senior Investigator – Fire Origin & Cause Practice
Rodney Sanders, Senior Investigator – Fire Origin & Cause Practice

What truly differentiates J.S. Held is our people — world-class talent driven by a common set of core values. Together, these shared values inspire a culture of integrity, excellence, teamwork, and service.

 

Rodney is a Senior Fire Investigator for J.S. Held’s Fire Origin & Cause Practice. He is based in Alpharetta, Georgia and is currently in his 30th year of combined public and private service. Over his career, Rodney has investigated many different types of fire and explosion events, but no matter how similar or different two cases may be, he believes there is always an opportunity to further his training and meet great people along the way.

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“Rodney is simply a model employee. He is extremely conscientious about every aspect of his job, from the initial assignment through completion of the investigation, as well as how he interacts with clients and co-workers. He regularly volunteers for extra assignments and special projects and always excels no matter the task. On top of all that, he is a genuinely nice person.”

Rick Anewalt, IAAI-CFI, PI, Regional Practice Manager – Fire Origin & Cause Practice | Charleston, SC

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Background

In addition to being a Certified Fire Investigator (CFI), Rodney is also a Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator (CFEI), a Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator (CVFI), and a Private Investigator (PI) in the states of Georgia and Alabama. Prior to becoming a fire investigator, he worked as both a firefighter and police officer. “As a public fire investigator, I was responsible for investigating fire related crimes. I had to determine the origin and cause of the fire and who was responsible,” he explains, “but as a private fire investigator, primarily, the job is to determine origin and cause, not necessarily the ‘who’ part, and that’s a big difference between the two roles.” Rodney spent seven years in fire suppression, and this, he says, is what ultimately led to his interest in fire investigation.

Although, a career in fire was not always the plan. In the 1980s, Rodney worked as an air traffic controller in the U.S Navy. “It was after the Navy that I decided to become a police officer and then later a firefighter,” says Rodney. “I wanted to get married and have a home and a stable career, and being a police officer and firefighter afforded that.”

Before joining J.S. Held, Rodney worked for a forensic investigations company based in Marietta, Georgia. “At the time, I didn't know about J.S. Held, and wasn’t aware that they did anything related to fire,” he says. “But then an engineer from Ohio sent some fire-related materials to our lab, and I noticed he worked with J.S. Held, so I checked out the company website. ” Given his previous experience, J.S. Held was an obvious next step for Rodney. “What brought me to the company,” he explains, “was the opportunity to be a part of a well respected Fire O&C group and for professional growth.”

Professional Interests

Rodney’s primary role with J.S. Held is centered on determining the origin and cause of fires and explosions. “I get involved in a variety of investigations. I may have to figure out if and/or why a particular appliance or other heat producing object caused a fire and bring it into a lab for further investigation,” Rodney says, “I also assist J.S. Held’s accident reconstruction group, where I’ll perform vehicle and site documentation.”

A good portion of his time is spent onsite—at the scenes of the fires he and the team are called upon to investigate. The job can be physically demanding, depending on a number of factors. “I typically go in, for instance, with tools like a shovel,” Rodney explains, “wearing a special suit or other personal protective equipment (PPE), and often we deal with situations where there’s unknown hazards.”

Despite the physical challenges, Rodney finds that investigation work is both thrilling and fascinating. “It’s tough,” he admits, “but solving the puzzle is fun. I love being able to find something that someone else didn’t find.” This penchant for discovery and attention to detail can play out in critical ways, too. “We had a situation during one case,” he recalls, “where a restaurant kitchen caught fire early in the morning and caused extensive damage to the kitchen and the restaurant. During litigation, an investigator for the opposing side had alleged the fire began by a failed component in a commercial freezer. We took into account factors they had missed, including some oily rags that had been laundered and left in a dryer, as well as motion camera footage that had caught video of the fire right as it began. We presented a different scenario based on this evidence and additional lab evidence, which the jury found much more compelling. They ultimately ruled in favor of our client.”

 
Employee Spotlight: Rodney Sanders
Employee Spotlight: Rodney Sanders

Personal Interests

Rodney enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing pickle-ball, and going on long walks with his wife in his free time. He is also actively involved in his community. “I serve underprivileged children in my local community by volunteering my time and resources through the organization Kidz Bible Club. My wife and I adopted two children internationally and still support a ministry that serves orphans in the Ukraine.”

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“As it concerns safety, never assume what can or cannot happen or what you or others are capable of causing. Instead, rely on planning and prevention.”

Rodney Sanders, Senior Investigator – Fire Origin & Cause Practice | Alpharetta, GA

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Contact

Interested in learning more about Rodney Sanders? Send him an email at [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 
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