Ronald Decker Deposition

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 4                                - - -

 5   PAUL CAMIOLO                     : CIVIL ACTION
 6                  vs.               :
 7   STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY       : NO. 97-8057

 8                                - - -

 9                        Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
                           Wednesday, August 5, 1998
                                  - - -

12                   Pretrial Examination of RONALD F.

13   DECKER, taken pursuant to notice at the law offices

14   of Post & Schell, P.C., 1800 John F. Kennedy

15   Boulevard, on the above date, beginning at

16   approximately 10:55 a.m. before Pamela Harrison,

17   RPR and Notary Public, and Judith D. Barit, RPR and

18   Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

19                                - - -



               Registered Professional Reporters
23           Suite 600, Eleven Penn Center Plaza
                    1835 Market Street
24               Philadelphia, PA 19103
                     (215) 561-2220



 3                THOMAS S. COMETA, ESQUIRE
                  Law Offices of Thomas S. Cometa
 4                     Pierce Officenter, Suite 213
                       Kingston, PA 18704
                       Counsel for Plaintiff
                  RICHARD L. McMONIGLE, ESQUIRE
                  Post & Schell, P.C.
 8                     1800 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
                       Philadelphia, PA 19103
                       Counsel for Defendant
                  Walter Kerr
                                - - -




17                     (It is stipulated by and among

18   counsel that sealing, filing and certification be

19   waived; and that all objections, except as to the

20   form of the question, are reserved until the time

21   of trial.)


23                              - - -


25                     (INDEX at end of transcript.)

 2               RONALD F. DECKER, having been duly
 3 sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
 5    Q.   Mr. Decker, if I could reintroduce myself.
 6 My name is Rich McMonigle and I represent State
 7 Farm Fire and Casualty Company in connection with
 8 the lawsuit brought by Paul Camiolo.
 9               We are here today because I had
10 noticed your deposition and I thank you for
11 coming. Basically what I'll do is I'll ask you
12 some questions and I'll ask you to answer them as
13 accurately and completely as you can.
14               Do you understand that?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   If you don't understand my question or if
17 you don't quite hear it right, ask me to repeat it
18 or rephrase it and I'll be happy to do that.
19               Do you understand that?
20    A.   Yes, I do.
21    Q.   I'll ask you to verbalize, you're doing a
22 good job of that, so this young lady can get
23 everything down.
24    A.   Yes, sir.
25    Q.   She can't get gestures or nods..

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   I understand, sir.
 3    Q.   I ask you to let my question be done before
 4 you answer and I'll wait until you are done
 5 answering before I ask another question, and
 6 hopefully we won't be stepping on each other and
 7 the record will be clear.
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   If you think back to any previous testimony
10 that you give or maybe you left something out or
11 perhaps you misstated something or perhaps you want
12 to add to it, stop me and say, may I go back to
13 that previous answer, I would like to change my
14 answer. You are allowed to do that.
15               Do you understand that?
16    A.   Yes, sir.
17    Q.   And would you do that for me if that
18 actually occurs during the course of your testimony
19 here today?
20    A.   Yes, sir.
21    Q.   Are you presently on any medication or
22 anything else that would prevent you from hearing
23 and understanding my questions and making answers?
24    A.   No, sir.
25    Q.   All righty. Pursuant to the Notice of

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 Deposition you've been kind enough to bring your
 3 entire folder in this case. Is that right?
 4    A.    Yes, sir.
 5    Q.    And I have -- before we started I sort of
 6 flipped through things real quick just to get a lay
 7 of the land, so to speak, as to what brought and
 8 it's all laying out right in front of you. Is that
 9 correct?
10    A.    Yes, sir.
11    Q.    What I'll do is, to try to make the record
12 clear, I'm going to itemize some things but stop me
13 if I misstate anything. Okay?
14    A.    Okay, sir.
15    Q.    You have a manila folder containing the lab
16 reports of the state police in this case; is that
17 right?
18    A.    Yes, sir.
19    Q.    And how long have you had those reports?
20    A.    Approximately two days.
21                Mr. McMONIGLE: They were produced in
22 Avato's deposition, I think.
23                MR. COMETA: Correct.
25    Q.    You have some letter from my office just

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 scheduling your deposition; is that right?
 3    A.   Yes, sir.
 4    Q.   That's in another folder.
 5               You have a manila folder that
 6 includes some information regarding Intercity
 7 Testing and Consulting Corporation; is that right?
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   What was this?
10    A.   That's the CV of Gordon Damant.
11    Q.   D-A-M-A-N-T?
12    A.   Right, who is probably the leading expert
13 in the country today that I've been able to locate
14 at any rate on cigarette fires.
15    Q.   Have you hired Mr. Damant in connection
16 with this case or has Mr. Cometa, to your
17 knowledge?
18    A.   No, sir.
19    Q.   What made you pull his name and resume?
20 Why did you get this?
21    A.   Because he is the leading expert whom we've
22 been able to locate on cigarette fires and I
23 thought it might be handy in this case.
24    Q.   Have you utilized his services at all in
25 connection with your investigation and your report

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 in this case?
 3    A.   No, sir.
 4    Q.   But --
 5    A.   Not at this time.
 6    Q.   But you are thinking that you might?
 7    A.   Not at this time. It's a possibility.
 8                MR. COMETA: Just for clarification,
 9 you termed did you utilize his services, you might
10 want to expand, did you consult with him at all or
11 discuss this matter with him at all?
12                THE WITNESS: I talked to him very
13 briefly, just very briefly. I wouldn't call it a
14 real consultation.
16    Q.   Did he offer any advice or insight to you
17 about cigarette fires that you utilized in the
18 formulation of your opinions in this case?
19    A.   No, sir.
20    Q.   Did he tell you anything that you rejected
21 or did not use as part of your investigation and
22 opinions in this case?
23    A.   No, sir.
24    Q.   What did you talk about with Mr. Damant?
25    A.   His availability and obtained a list of his

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 CV which included a list of all the articles that
 3 he has published concerning basically cigarette
 4 fires, a lot of which are cigarette fires in
 5 furniture and cigarettes fires in trash cans. The
 6 majority of my conversation regarded, with him,
 7 regarded another fire.
 8    Q.   I see in his letter to you regarding fire
 9 hair saloon cigarette ignition of trash. Is that
10 the other fire?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   Is it hair saloon or hair salon?
13    A.   Hair salon.
14    Q.   They might provide that little extra thing
15 that makes their services enjoyable.
16               Do you have a copy of your CV?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   Which I think you provided to Mr. Cometa
19 and he's been kind enough to provide it to me;
20 that's in another folder.
21               There is sort of a reddish folder
22 that you had flipped through that contains a
23 monograph from the National Bureau of Standards,
24 NBS monograph 173, Fire Behavior of Upholstered
25 Furniture, and that's put out by the U.S.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 Department of Commerce. That's in here; is that
 3 right?
 4    A.   Yes, sir.
 5    Q.   Did you refer to this or utilize this at
 6 all in connection with your investigation of the
 7 Camiolo matter or the formulating of your
 8 opinions?
 9    A.   Yes, sir.
10    Q.   We'll probably get into the specifics of
11 your opinion later on, but maybe you can give me a
12 little overview as to what role, if any, this NBS
13 monograph played.
14    A.   Well, basically it's as the title entails,
15 fire behavior in upholstered furniture, it's
16 discussion and computation of formulas and of
17 information concerning fires in upholstered
18 furniture and, you know, I used that to refresh my
19 memory and recollection and to research.
20    Q.   Did you make a determination as to the
21 manufacturer of the sofa and love seat in the
22 Camiolo residence in the family room?
23    A.   I didn't make a determination per se, I was
24 told that it was a Berkoline.
25    Q.   I know that's been kicked around, that

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 phrase by Paul Camiolo, and I might have seen it
 3 elsewhere and I think even Mr. Cometa said in
 4 Paul's deposition that's a northeastern
 5 Pennsylvania phrase. I wasn't sure whether that
 6 was the actual manufacturer of the love seat and
 7 sofa or whether that was sort of a generic term
 8 that was being used. Do you know whether --
 9    A.   Yes, sir, that's a manufacturer.
10    Q.   It was a Berkoline, they in fact --
11    A.   Yes.
12    Q.   Got you.
13    A.   They are a manufacturer and they did
14 manufacture furniture of that type.
15    Q.   From using this book and from knowing the
16 manufacturer, were you able to arrive at a
17 conclusion as to what the makeup of the cushions
18 and materials of the love seat and sofa were?
19    A.   No, sir, not specifically.
20    Q.   Was that important to your investigation or
21 were you able to do it satisfactorily or at least
22 to your satisfaction without having that specific
23 knowledge?
24    A.   Without having that specific information,
25 yes, sir, at this time.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Did you make any general conclusion about
 3 the makeup of the cushions in the back of the love
 4 seat and sofa?
 5    A.   Yes, sir.
 6    Q.   What conclusion did you draw? Maybe a
 7 better way to put it is what do you think the sofa
 8 and love seat were made of? That might be putting
 9 it in English.
10    A.   Basically they are made of wood and steel,
11 steel for springs, steel reinforcement covered with
12 a certain amount of cotton batting and foam rubber
13 padding and a cloth covering to my understanding.
14    Q.   Do you have any specific knowledge about
15 the cloth covering, as to whether or not it was
16 flame retarded or otherwise treated at all?
17    A.   I do not at this time, no, sir.
18    Q.   As far as the foam rubber padding, do you
19 have any knowledge at this time as to whether it
20 was treated at all as far as flame resistance or
21 flame retarding?
22    A.   I do not, sir.
23    Q.   Does this monograph here from NBS, did that
24 help at all in answer to that question?
25    A.   No, sir.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Did you rely at all on what is contained in
 3 this NBS monograph in the formulation of your
 4 opinions in this case?
 5    A.   No, sir.
 6    Q.   Did you ignore it or --
 7    A.   Well, no, I read it and -- read through it
 8 and looked through it, and it hasn't changed my
 9 opinion one way or another.
10    Q.   Was it helpful, though, as far as
11 formulating your opinion or did it provide support
12 for your opinion?
13    A.   It provided support for my opinion.
14    Q.   Could you -- and I know we are getting
15 ahead and this is always dangerous whenever you do
16 this, but since we are on this topic and while it's
17 in your mind, could you be specific as to how this
18 NBS monograph provided support for your opinion?
19    A.   Basically just in burning rates and
20 temperature coefficients, temperature rates.
21    Q.   I think maybe in giving your opinion we
22 will go back to that, and if Dirk will kick me at
23 the appropriate time so I remember to do it, it
24 might make sense doing that rather than getting
25 sidetracked now.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2               We are going through your folder
 3 here. You also have a list of fire research
 4 publications and this was put out by the Department
 5 of Commerce, May 1989. The byline is Nora H.
 6 Jason. What is this document, sir?
 7    A.   If I may.
 8               (A document is passed.)
 9    Q.   Yes, sir.
10    A.   (Witness reading.) This is a listing of
11 fire research publication by various and sundry
12 individuals that talk about a myriad of subjects.
13    Q.   Did you use that document to pull any
14 specific documents or articles for review in this
15 case?
16    A.   No, sir, I used this to look for some
17 documents.
18    Q.   Were you able to find them or not?
19    A.   No, sir.
20    Q.   There's an October 1987 document, it
21 doesn't look like it's stapled so I think it's sort
22 of loose here and it looks like it's copied from a
23 book, there's a Post-It that says "4/13/98,
24 Mr. Decker, the document may be appear to be
25 missing pages, however that is not the case, we

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 simply did not copy blank pages," signed somebody.
 3               Whose signature is that?
 4    A.   Alberta.
 5    Q.   Who is Alberta?
 6    A.   Alberta is a clerk with the U.S. Consumer
 7 Product Safety Commission in Washington.
 8               MR. McMONIGLE: Excuse me for one
 9 second.
10               (Brief recess.)
12    Q.   That was Alberta, was that her name?
13    A.   Yes, sir.
14    Q.   So Alberta sent you this stuff upon your
15 request, or something?
16    A.   Yes, sir.
17    Q.   And what was the nature of this stuff that
18 she sent you?
19    A.   I believe that's all on cigarette fires,
20 sir, it's all material on cigarette fires.
21    Q.   And this is U.S. Consumer Product Safety
22 Commission stuff?
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   Did you review this information from
25 Alberta as part of your investigation?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Part of the ongoing investigation, yes,
 3 sir.
 4    Q.   And did you find this information helpful
 5 or instructive in any way?
 6    A.   No, sir.
 7    Q.   Any particular reason why not?
 8    A.   No, sir.
 9    Q.   There's also a book you have called the
10 Cigarette Fire Incident Study, August 1993,
11 prepared for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
12 Commission by the National Fire Protection
13 Association as well as the Mathematica Policy
14 Research, Incorporated.
15               Is this also a U.S. Department of
16 Commerce publication?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   What does this deal with?
19    A.   That deals with a number of fires that have
20 been started by various brands of cigarettes and
21 frequencies in various parts of the country and a
22 tremendous amount of detail that, again, was not
23 particularly helpful, was not helpful in this
24 investigation at all.
25    Q.   And how come?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   It's very detailed as far as brands and
 3 types, it just didn't really apply to this
 4 investigation.
 5                (Discussion held off the record.)
 7    Q.   This other reddish file that you have
 8 contains some of the reports that have been
 9 generated in this particular case; is that correct?
10    A.   That's correct, sir.
11    Q.   I see Fire Marshal Sullivan's report; is
12 that right?
13    A.   Yes, sir.
14    Q.   You have some listed names such as Alex
15 Sutherland and Trooper Klein and things like that?
16    A.   Right.
17    Q.   You have the tape-recorded statement from
18 Paul Camiolo that State Farm took?
19    A.   Yes, sir.
20    Q.   That you did review; correct?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   You have the state police report --
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   -- of Whitmoyer and Klein?
25    A.   Yes, sir.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   You also have a search warrant. I hadn't
 3 seen that but it may not be particularly germane
 4 here, but these are some search warrants pertaining
 5 to the search of Mr. Camiolo's residence; is that
 6 right?
 7    A.   Yes, sir.
 8    Q.   And there's a couple of charts that I think
 9 we've all seen. This one I think was by Fire
10 Marshal Sullivan.
11    A.   I believe so.
12    Q.   I think you are right.
13               Then there's Walter Kerr's
14 deposition?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   Transcript, I should say.
17               More search warrant information; is
18 that right?
19    A.   Yes, sir.
20    Q.   Then you have a copy of Walter Kerr's cause
21 and origin report as well as his supplemental cause
22 and origin report?
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   You have a copy of the Steven Avato report?
25    A.   Yes, sir.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   You have a copy, which is attached to your
 3 report, of Jason Freed's report from the
 4 National Medical Services, Inc.?
 5    A.   That's correct, sir.
 6    Q.   There are some notes on Page 2 of Jason
 7 Freed's reports. Whose handwriting is that?
 8    A.   That's mine, sir.
 9    Q.   Could you read that? It looks like it's
10 dated 4/1/97. It's probably a conversation you had
11 with Mr. Freed, but could you just read that for
12 the record?
13    A.   Yes, sir. "4/1/97, confer W," meaning
14 with, "Jason. Weathered gasoline, could have been
15 burnt, could have been out for a long time. Odd
16 that there was no trace of gasoline found in rug or
17 padding."
18    Q.   Obviously this is a conversation that you
19 had with Mr. Freed after the report was generated?
20    A.   That's correct, sir.
21    Q.   And who initiated the call, you?
22    A.   Yes, sir.
23    Q.   You had some questions about the report and
24 you wanted to follow up with it?
25    A.   Yes, sir.

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   How long was the conversation?
 3    A.   Five, ten minutes, give or take.
 4    Q.   You read for me this three-line or
 5 four-line note. Could you describe a little more
 6 specifically, in a little more detail, the nature
 7 of the conversation with Mr. Freed that you had?
 8    A.   Well, yes, sir.
 9    Q.   And I'll give you the whole report here.
10               (Document is passed.)
11    A.   Basically I went back over his report with
12 him, indicating that, you know, we had the gasoline
13 in the items 1, 2 and 3, and I was very surprised
14 and I wanted to know what he could tell me about
15 the gasoline, is there any chance that it's new
16 gasoline, is it old gasoline, is there anything
17 unusual about it that he can give me
18 a -- you know, anything that would help, and is
19 there any question as to whether it in fact was
20 gasoline rather than a petroleum distillate of some
21 other type. And his answer was quite emphatic that
22 it was gasoline, it was weathered, meaning that the
23 tips and the peaks and valleys, if you would, of
24 his chart were I guess rounded, indicating that it
25 certainly had -- was comparable with gasoline that

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 has been through a fire, you know, gasoline remains
 3 residue found in the fire.
 4    Q.   As far as it being weathered, did he give
 5 you any indication as to the length of the
 6 weathering? I mean could it have been one year,
 7 two years, three years, or was he talking about
 8 weeks and months?
 9    A.   Unfortunately there is no way that you can
10 determine that. I did ask him that question, yes,
11 sir, and he said he could not determine that,
12 there's just no way.
13    Q.   When he uses the term "weathered," is he
14 referring to exposure to the elements or was he
15 referring to some other use of the term, you know,
16 "weathered"?
17               MR. COMETA: If you know. If you
18 don't know, you don't know.
19               THE WITNESS: I don't know to be
20 sure, sir.
22    Q.   Mr. Freed said he was absolutely sure that
23 it was gasoline; is that right?
24    A.   That is correct, sir.
25    Q.   And the gasoline was found in what, the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 wood samples?
 3    A.   That's correct, sir.
 4    Q.   Did he find gasoline in any other samples
 5 other than the hardwood floor?
 6    A.   No, sir.
 7    Q.   Did you have any discussion with Mr. Freed
 8 as to whether there could be an explanation for why
 9 there was gas in with the hardwood flooring of the
10 Camiolo residence?
11    A.   Yes, sir, I did.
12    Q.   Can you describe that conversation, what
13 was Mr. Freed's view, what was your view, if you
14 were sharing views?
15    A.   He was -- my recollection of the
16 conversation is he was at somewhat of a loss,
17 although he did agree that it would have been
18 possible for the gasoline to have been trapped
19 there by some type of sealant, gasoline residue.
20    Q.   What do you mean by that, possible for the
21 gas to have been trapped by some type of sealant?
22    A.   Polyethylene covering, a polyethylene
23 covering placed on the floor.
24    Q.   Who proposed that as a possible
25 explanation, did Mr. Freed volunteer that or did

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 you pose it to him?
 3    A.   I believe I posed that to him, sure.
 4    Q.   What made you pose that particular
 5 hypothetical?
 6    A.   That's the only logical thing that I can
 7 determine why we would have gasoline trapped in the
 8 wood in an area that was not burned but was
 9 subjected to intense heat.
10    Q.   Did you and Mr. Freed have any more
11 discussions along this subject?
12    A.   On other dates and times?
13    Q.   First I was going to ask you about this
14 date and then I'm going to ask you if you had any
15 later conversations with him.
16    A.   I believe that was basically the gist of
17 our conversation on that date. I did speak with
18 him on another occasion.
19    Q.   When was that?
20    A.   Probably within the last month, the exact
21 date of which I don't recall.
22    Q.   And why did you speak with him?
23    A.   I was trying to find him.
24               (Laughter.)
25    A.   (Continued) And I did locate him in a

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 rather unusual spot. He is now a special agent
 3 with the FBI. I was informed that he was with the
 4 FBI laboratory. Not so, he's a field agent.
 5    Q.   Where is he stationed?
 6    A.   I believe Norfolk, Virginia.
 7    Q.   Were you able to reach him or did you
 8 discuss this case, the Camiolo case?
 9    A.   Yes, sir.
10    Q.   Did you have any further discussion about
11 trying to explain the gas in the floor or anything
12 else that is relevant to this particular
13 investigation?
14    A.   No, just that, you know, he indicated he
15 did remember it was in fact gasoline and that he
16 would probably be available to testify, if
17 necessary, and he would research into the policies
18 and procedures that he had to do now that he was an
19 FBI agent.
20    Q.   While we are on this topic, and while I'm
21 thinking about it, maybe it will save some time,
22 the samples that you submitted, the hardwood floor
23 samples, how big were they, what was the size of
24 those?
25    A.   3, 4 inches long pieces of wood.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.    And they were cut right from the
 3 floorboards themselves --
 4    A.    Yes, sir.
 5    Q.    -- by you?
 6    A.    Yes, sir.
 7    Q.    And I take it that you made sure that your
 8 tools that you used were not contaminated in any
 9 fashion?
10    A.    Yes, sir.
11    Q.    Were they new or did you clean them or
12 what?
13    A.    They were clean, yes, sir.
14    Q.    Did Mr. Freed indicate to you -- do you
15 have any sense as to just what it is that he tests,
16 does he test the whole 3 or 4 inch piece of wood or
17 a piece of the piece of wood or what is your
18 understanding of what exactly he tests?
19    A.    I think he does a normal gas chromatograph
20 and basically tests the vapors that are contained
21 in the can, I think it's fairly standard procedure
22 for all the labs, a procedure that was developed
23 right here in Philadelphia back in the early '70s
24 where they heat the can to excite the vapors,
25 puncture the can, suck out the vapors through an

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 inert filter and then they can test that in their
 3 gas chromatograph and give them true readings.
 4    Q.   So they are actually testing that entire
 5 sample then that's in the can that is making the
 6 vapors?
 7    A.   Yes, sir.
 8    Q.   Were there any other conversations you had
 9 with Mr. Freed?
10    A.   No, sir, that's been the extent of it.
11    Q.   Did you submit any samples to any other
12 laboratories or any other chemists for examination?
13    A.   No, sir.
14    Q.   Getting back to your file, there is a
15 resume of Walter Kerr, perhaps another copy or just
16 a different transcribed statement of Alex
17 Sutherland's statement with Paul Camiolo; is that
18 right?
19    A.   Yes, sir.
20    Q.   There's a letter from Paul Camiolo to Alex
21 Sutherland which I believe we've all seen?
22    A.   Right.
23    Q.   And then there's a letter to Tom Cometa
24 enclosing a copy of your final report; is that
25 right?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   That's correct, sir.
 3    Q.   The only other thing that you -- it looks
 4 like you brought with you today, just something
 5 that caught my eye here --
 6    A.   No, that's --
 7    Q.   Does this say UFOs on your file here,
 8 unidentified flying objects, or am I missing
 9 something?
10    A.   No, that's what it says.
11    Q.   It has nothing to do with this case?
12    A.   It has nothing to do with this case
13 whatsoever, no, sir.
14    Q.   Somebody might think otherwise perhaps,
15 but --
16               MR. COMETA: That's the reason.
18    Q.   It just caught my eye here and I was
19 wondering.
20               You did bring with you, it looks like
21 another government publication, this is a 1998
22 edition, NFPA 921, guide for fire and explosion
23 investigations. What is the significance of this
24 particular publication that I'm not familiar with?
25    A.   It's basically the bible for the procedure

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 to follow in fire and explosive investigation.
 3    Q.   This is what some at least believe this is
 4 the standard that anybody who is investigating a
 5 fire should follow; is that right?
 6    A.   Yes, sir.
 7    Q.   Do you believe that you followed NFPA 921?
 8    A.   Yes, sir, I do.
 9    Q.   What about Steven Avato, do you believe
10 that he filed NFPA 921?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   What about Trooper Klein, did he follow
13 NFPA 921?
14    A.   As far as he went, yes, sir.
15    Q.   Could you explain your answer, as far as he
16 went? It sounded like you were qualifying.
17    A.   Yeah, and I guess I should really back up
18 and say Avato as far as he went followed NFPA 921.
19 And --
20    Q.   Trooper Klein?
21    A.   Trooper Klein prepared his report and I
22 don't believe has followed it to the conclusion.
23    Q.   Has not followed what to the conclusion?
24    A.   The total investigation to the conclusion.
25    Q.   Let me just go back. When you said Avato

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 followed NFPA 921 as far as he went, what do you
 3 mean by that?
 4    A.   He conducted an initial fire scene
 5 investigation and prepared his report with what he
 6 saw, with the information that he had at hand to do
 7 the job that he was in the process of doing.
 8    Q.   What he did up to the time or up to the
 9 point in time when he did it, in your view did
10 trooper -- did Mr. Avato comply with NFPA 921?
11    A.   Yes, sir, but he didn't do a total
12 investigation, he didn't do a complete
13 investigation.
14    Q.   Now, you are aware of the fact that his
15 report is checked off final, are you not?
16    A.   I am, sir; however, that report is not a --
17 is not a criminal report and it's a final report
18 for the purpose which is required, that that report
19 is required to be published.
20    Q.   And that has to do with his training?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   And he explained all that to us on Friday
23 so I won't take you through that.
24    A.   Very good.
25    Q.   But since you are an ATF person you might

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 know a little bit about that training. Was there
 3 some reason that Mr. Avato could not wait for the
 4 lab results when he was doing that report or could
 5 he have waited and still have been adhering to
 6 ATF's requirements for these training reports?
 7    A.   I can't give you a positive answer for that
 8 now in that I have been retired seven years and at
 9 the time that I went through training, we were not
10 required to publish a formal report for each and
11 every fire, we merely had to document our fires.
12    Q.   I understand. Turning to Trooper Klein, I
13 just couldn't tell from your answer whether you
14 were suggesting that Trooper Klein deviated from
15 NFPA 921 at all.
16    A.   No, I wouldn't say that he deviated from
17 921, I'd just say that it's my opinion that he
18 hasn't completed his investigation in a -- in a
19 method that they suggest, that they require you
20 have an explanation for each and every -- for each
21 and every action and a logical explanation.
22    Q.   I think we'll get back to that again when
23 you are tying up your opinions and I'll make a note
24 to myself and then you can --
25               MR. COMETA: And that's what you are

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 referring to (indicating).
 3               THE WITNESS: Yes, and basically, you
 4 know --
 6    Q.   You'll have the opportunity to elaborate.
 7               MR. McMONIGLE: I'm sorry,
 8 Mr. Cometa, you were clarifying something.
 9               MR. COMETA: I'm asking him the
10 question if that was the section he was referring
11 to, specifically starting on Page 921-9, the basic
12 methodology, Chapter 2.
14    Q.   Fire Marshal Sullivan, did Fire Marshal
15 Sullivan in your view adhere to NFPA 921? And I
16 would include both of his reports in my question.
17    A.   You mean his undetermined report and his --
18    Q.   Yes, he did a followup report as well that
19 you are aware of, Fire Marshal Sullivan did two
20 reports, or a supplemental to a report?
21    A.   Oh, supplemental, okay.
22    Q.   No, he supplemented his report after the
23 laboratory findings became known.
24    A.   Correct.
25    Q.   So I'm including all of that in my question

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 to you, whether you feel that Fire Marshal Sullivan
 3 followed NFPA 921 in his investigation.
 4    A.    Again, I don't believe that -- I believe
 5 that in his approach he was, but he hasn't, in my
 6 opinion, been able to explain all the actions that
 7 he has in his report.
 8    Q.    We'll get back to that as well probably
 9 later.
10                You also have with you today a
11 video --
12                (Interruption at the door.)
14    Q.    You also brought with you here a video and
15 I think you said at the outset this is a
16 cigarette-started fire that then goes to
17 flash-over?
18    A.    That's correct, it's a video, a 17-minute
19 video called Fire Power. It was produced, I
20 believe, by the National Fire Protection Agency,
21 NFPA, and it just gives you pretty good insight as
22 to what happens with a fire started by a cigarette
23 and the time frames that can happen.
24    Q.    And we'll probably take a little look at
25 this at some point. I take it you looked at this

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 as part of your investigation here?
 3    A.   Yes, sir.
 4    Q.   You also have what looks to be three
 5 envelopes of photos?
 6    A.   That's correct, sir.
 7    Q.   Some of which are probably in your report?
 8    A.   No, sir, these are additional to the
 9 report. These are additional to the report
10               MR. McMONIGLE: I think I did finally
11 request those at some point in time.
12               MR. COMETA: Yes, we just have to
13 figure out how we are going to make them.
14               MR. McMONIGLE: All right.
16    Q.   I think I have summarized -- it's hard to
17 believe it took that long, but I think I have
18 summarized your complete file in this case. Is
19 there anything else that I have missed?
20    A.   Not that I'm aware of, sir.
21    Q.   Have you issued any other written reports
22 other than the report that you gave to Mr. Cometa
23 and which he produced to me which is dated August
24 17th, 1997?
25    A.   No, sir.

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Or any supplemental reports that you have
 3 prepared that have either been printed or maybe
 4 they exist on computer or something like that?
 5    A.   To the best of my knowledge, I haven't.
 6    Q.   You seem to be hesitating a little bit.
 7    A.   Well, I am hesitating. I had everything on
 8 this file, everything on this case on this disk and
 9 the disk went bad and --
10               (Witness laughs.)
11    Q.   I know that can happen.
12    A.   Possibly if I have written any more
13 reports, anything that I would have would only have
14 been directed to Mr. Cometa.
15    Q.   I don't know if we've identified this
16 folder, but there is a folder here of just some of
17 your written notes --
18    A.   That's correct, sir.
19    Q.   -- phone numbers and I think there is one
20 article called Why Fires Go To Blazes. What would
21 you call this folder? Is this some sort of
22 miscellaneous folder?
23    A.   A miscellaneous file with notes, yes, sir.
24    Q.   Anything else that you have other than what
25 we've spread out here in front of you?

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.    No, sir.
 3                MR. McMONIGLE: Can we go off the
 4 record for a second.
 5                (Brief recess.)
 6                (Documents marked for identification
 7 as Decker Exhibits 1 and 2.)
 9    Q.    Sir, I'm giving you back my notes, my
10 secretary was incredibly efficient as she usually
11 is, and Decker Exhibit 2 is a Xerox copy of some of
12 those notes that were in your miscellaneous notes
13 folder. Okay?
14    A.    Yes, sir.
15    Q.    So I'm returning your original here. All
16 right?
17    A.    Correct. Thank you, sir.
18    Q.    And we'll probably go through a couple of
19 these things a little later on during this
20 deposition. In the meantime, Decker Exhibit 1 is
21 your CV?
22    A.    Yes, sir.
23    Q.    And when was this last updated?
24    A.    Probably January of this year.
25    Q.    Decker-Neff Investigations, are you one of

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 the principals?
 3    A.   Yes, sir.
 4    Q.   Who is Mr. Neff?
 5    A.   Thomas G. Neff is the president.
 6    Q.   What does he do and what is his specialty?
 7    A.   An investigator.
 8    Q.   Does he do cause and origin or does he do
 9 something else?
10    A.   No, sir. He does basically general
11 investigations, surveillance.
12    Q.   So you are the fire guy in this outfit?
13    A.   Yes, sir.
14    Q.   Are there any other fire investigators
15 other than you with Decker-Neff Investigations?
16    A.   No, sir.
17    Q.   This CV is accurate?
18    A.   Yes, sir.
19    Q.   By the way, maybe I won't have to ask you
20 all these things and maybe we'll save some time
21 here. When did you join the Bureau of Alcohol,
22 Tobacco & Firearms?
23    A.   April 1971, sir.
24    Q.   Had you done any fire cause and origin work
25 when you were with the air force office of special

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 investigations?
 3    A.   I had done a couple of fire investigations
 4 but they really were not cause and origin.
 5    Q.   Now, on Friday Mr. Avato explained to us
 6 the way an ATF investigator becomes certified in
 7 fire investigations.
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   Did you have to go through some sort of
10 process to achieve certification with ATF?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   What were their requirements back when you
13 did it?
14    A.   We had to do a hundred fires during that
15 year. We had to -- I won't say do, we had to
16 document a hundred fires during the year, attend
17 the -- I believe there were four separate schools,
18 and prepare a fire-related article for publication,
19 and have the pretrial or the trial, the trial
20 portion of the school.
21    Q.   Did that have to do with testifying in
22 court?
23    A.   Testifying, yes, sir.
24    Q.   When did you become a certified fire
25 investigator with ATF?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   I believe it was February of 1990.
 3    Q.   So had you investigated those hundred fires
 4 that were required in order to get certification
 5 between February of 1989 and February of 1990?
 6    A.   Yes, sir.
 7    Q.   And I'm sure Mr. Avato told me but I have
 8 forgotten it, the expression, the actual
 9 expression, is it certified fire investigator?
10    A.   Yes, sir.
11    Q.   How long has ATF been giving those
12 designations?
13    A.   1988, sir, was their first one.
14    Q.   So they must have had fire investigator
15 before 1988, didn't they?
16    A.   Yes, sir.
17    Q.   Were you actually one of them before 1988?
18    A.   Yes, sir, I was.
19    Q.   But you didn't have this certification back
20 then?
21    A.   That's correct, sir.
22    Q.   How many fires would you say you
23 investigated before you started this formal program
24 in February 1989?
25    A.   I believe I had a little over a hundred,

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 sir.
 3    Q.    Was that with ATF?
 4    A.    Yes, sir.
 5    Q.    So you had a hundred before you had to get
 6 your formal hundred; is that right?
 7    A.    Yes, sir.
 8    Q.    And was it this time period, in order to
 9 get the certification, was it a one-year time
10 period or more than that, to go through the formal
11 process?
12    A.    Actually, it was a little -- I believe it
13 was a little more than that, yes.
14    Q.    Do you know how long it was?
15    A.    No, sir, I don't, to be exact.
16    Q.    Did you fulfill all the requirements?
17    A.    Yes, sir, I did.
18    Q.    The hundred fires or so that you
19 investigated before you began the formal training
20 part, were you the lead investigator in any of
21 those hundred fires?
22    A.    Yes, sir.
23    Q.    How many?
24    A.    Roughly 15 percent, I guess; about 15.
25    Q.    I use that expression lead investigator but

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 maybe I'll ask you: What does it mean to be the
 3 lead investigator on a cause and origin
 4 investigation?
 5    A.   Well, the lead investigator is the agent
 6 responsible for the preparation of the total case.
 7    Q.   Now, when you began to do the hundred fire
 8 investigations that were part of your training,
 9 were you the lead investigator for any of those
10 fires?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   And the reason why I ask, it would strike
13 me as being inconsistent that somebody who would be
14 in training would be the lead investigator but
15 maybe I misunderstand the whole process and that's
16 why I asked that question.
17    A.   Possibly I could explain.
18    Q.   Go ahead, please.
19    A.   We got involved -- I say we, ATF became
20 involved with fire investigations as a result of
21 the Explosives Act of 1971 when they determined
22 that a fire caused or an explosion caused by an
23 individual using gasoline to start a fire fell
24 underneath the Explosives Act, so we started -- ATF
25 started investigating fires around 1978, 1976.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 In '78 the national response team was formed, and I
 3 became a member of the national response team in
 4 1978. It wasn't until 1984 that Congress actually
 5 added the word "fire" to the law that gave ATF
 6 jurisdiction to investigate fires. So we had, you
 7 know, had had some experience in conducting fire
 8 investigations.
 9                ATF's regulations at the time were
10 that no ATF agent would testify as an expert.
11 Headquarters personnel would provide the expert
12 testimony. And we had some explosives enforcement
13 officers that did all the expert testimony for
14 explosives and fire-related testimony. They became
15 just overworked and they started out with the
16 certified fire investigator program and at the time
17 that I retired in 1971 there was 39 of us in the
18 country.
19    Q.    I'm sorry, what year was that?
20    A.    In '91.
21                (Discussion held off the record.)
23    Q.    Now, when you indicated that you were like
24 the lead investigator in 15 percent of the first
25 hundred or so fires that you did, I'm just trying

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 to see that I understand what you meant by lead
 3 investigator. Would you have been the lead
 4 investigator of any investigator that was on site
 5 at that particular fire or are you saying that you
 6 would have been the lead investigator for ATF on
 7 the site of that particular fire?
 8    A.   For ATF.
 9    Q.   Would it be a fair assumption on my part to
10 assume there would have been local persons on site
11 of those hundred or so fires?
12    A.   Yes, sir.
13    Q.   And I take it that there was someone who
14 was head of the local investigations that were
15 taking place as well?
16    A.   Yes, sir.
17    Q.   And you were not suggesting in your answer
18 that you were the head person who would have been
19 in charge of the local people who were on site
20 there?
21    A.   No, sir.
22    Q.   Sort of a concurrent jurisdiction kind of
23 thing, is that what you are saying? I'll withdraw
24 that question. I was babbling.
25               Now, getting back to this hundred

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 fires that were part of your formal certification
 3 process, you are saying you could be the lead ATF
 4 investigator on the scene even though it was part
 5 of your training; is that correct?
 6    A.   Yes, sir.
 7    Q.   And you might have given me this figure but
 8 I ask you to do it again because I do not recollect
 9 it. Of those hundred fires as part of your
10 training, do you know what percent you would have
11 been the lead ATF investigator on?
12    A.   Probably about 10 of them. 10, 12,
13 somewheres along there.
14    Q.   And, again, of those hundred fires that are
15 part of your training, there would have been a
16 local counterpart involved there as well?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   And of those 10 or 12 that you just told me
19 about were you the only ATF person who was there at
20 those fires?
21    A.   No, sir. I think on -- no, sir.
22    Q.   I'm just trying to follow here. If you
23 were in training and there was more than one ATF
24 person who was on site, would that person be even
25 newer than you as far as investigating a fire, that

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 you would be the lead person? Does that make any
 3 sense?
 4    A.   We are talking about United States
 5 Government, sir, it does not make sense.
 6                (Laughter.)
 7    A.   (Continued) Again, just to back up, I was
 8 with the national -- I was a member of the national
 9 response team since 1978. I cannot recall the date
10 that we formed a district response team here in
11 Philadelphia, but I would assume that that was
12 somewheres around 1983 and for the most part,
13 from '83 on, I was the team leader of our district
14 response team.
15    Q.   What did it mean to be the team leader of
16 the district response team?
17    A.   Basically you are responsible for the
18 equipment, the personnel, the assignments, and
19 getting the job done. I mean there is also a case
20 agent that's the lead agent. There's going to be
21 the case agent that is going to have to write
22 everything up. There's also a team supervisor who
23 is responsible for the supervision and all the
24 administrative and financial matters.
25    Q.   But from '83 to '89 you were involved in no

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 more than 100, approximately, fires; is that right?
 3    A.   Probably. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
 4    Q.   And I think -- I'm just picking that from
 5 your previous answer.
 6    A.   Yeah.
 7    Q.   And of that approximate 100 fires you would
 8 have been the lead agent in about 15 percent of
 9 them? This is before your certification.
10    A.   Yes, sir.
11    Q.   Which means you were doing something other
12 than being a lead agent in the other 85 percent of
13 them?
14    A.   Right, sir.
15    Q.   If you weren't being a lead agent, what is
16 it that you were doing, what was the kind of
17 function that you were doing in those other 85
18 percent of the fires?
19    A.   Assisting in the investigation, the
20 on-scene investigation.
21    Q.   By doing what? Can you give me some
22 examples of the specific sorts of things that you
23 did?
24    A.   Working with the assigned cause and origin
25 investigator, doing possibly the photography, the

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 sketching, the scene, locating evidence, working
 3 the fire scene, the hole as we refer to it.
 4    Q.   Is that H-O-L-E or W-H-O-L-E?
 5    A.   Yes, H-O-L-E.
 6    Q.   So somebody has to go around taking
 7 photographs of the fire scene?
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   Would that sometimes be you?
10    A.   Yes, sir.
11    Q.   That would be one of these support roles
12 that would have to be done?
13    A.   Right, sir.
14    Q.   Was there a particular training that you
15 would have with respect to taking photographs and
16 things like that?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   Did everybody get the training or did you
19 have more of training than, say, the average person
20 at ATF in photography?
21    A.   They tried to get everyone on the response
22 team to go through at least, you know, one photo
23 school.
24    Q.   Did you go through more than one photo
25 school?

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Yes, sir, I believe I had two of them with
 3 ATF.
 4    Q.   Were you considered a better photographer
 5 than others or were you just pretty much the same?
 6    A.   No, just pretty much the same.
 7    Q.   What about sketching of the fire scene, is
 8 that something that everybody does or do certain
 9 people do it better than others or what?
10    A.   Again, certain people do it better than
11 others.
12    Q.   How about you, were you viewed as being
13 proficient in that area of the investigation or no
14 better than anyone?
15    A.   Yeah, I usually did the sketching if we
16 didn't have an engineer with us and we did have an
17 engineer on the team that was just tremendous at
18 sketching and he would take care of it.
19    Q.   I'm sorry, you were saying if you did have
20 an engineer or if you didn't have an engineer?
21    A.   If we had an engineer, he did it. If he
22 wasn't there, I would usually do a lot of the
23 sketching.
24    Q.   How often would the engineer be available,
25 was that a rare thing or was that often that he was

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 available?
 3    A.   50 percent of the time. 50/50.
 4    Q.   Are you an engineer by training?
 5    A.   No, sir.
 6    Q.   What is it about the sketching that makes
 7 it important and perhaps makes it a difficult thing
 8 to do, could you tell us?
 9    A.   A lot of it is just experience and being
10 able to put the numbers down on paper.
11    Q.   Did you have anything in your background
12 that made you good at the sketching part of things?
13    A.   I enjoyed mechanical drawing and I, you
14 know, played around with it, I did drawing and I
15 guess that helped, it certainly helped.
16    Q.   So if the engineer wasn't available, were
17 you the person they would pretty much want to do
18 the sketching of the scene?
19    A.   Usually on the team, yes, sir.
20    Q.   When you say one of these teams, maybe to
21 help me understand it, if I knew, A, how large the
22 team was and what the roles were of the people.
23    A.   Basically a team is a ten-man unit. You
24 have a team leader, a photographer, a sketch
25 artist, evidence collection, immediate area search

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 unit, exterior search unit, immediate area
 3 interviews, exterior area interviews, and a
 4 supervisor.
 5    Q.   Is the supervisor different than the team
 6 leader?
 7    A.   Yes.
 8    Q.   Could you explain the difference?
 9    A.   A supervisor is basically concerned with
10 liaison with the counterparts, with --
11    Q.   Any other jurisdiction? I didn't mean to
12 interrupt you.
13    A.   Yes, any other jurisdiction; with the
14 press, and administrative matters.
15    Q.   With respect to the hundred fires that were
16 part of your training to be a certified fire
17 investigator, you indicated that you would have
18 been the leader in about 10 to 12 of those fires;
19 is that right?
20    A.   Thereabouts, yes, sir.
21    Q.   Let me ask you this: Mr. Avato described
22 some of his investigations, one of which was the
23 Camiolo investigation where he was the only person
24 for ATF that was there and I don't know whether
25 that's a difference than what you just described as

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 this team response where there's ten people with
 3 different functions. Does sometimes a whole team
 4 go out and other times a sole investigator goes
 5 out? How does ATF make the distinction?
 6    A.   The distinction at the time that I was
 7 there, you had to have -- for the team callout it
 8 had to be an over a million dollar loss or the
 9 death or injury of a firefighter or a police
10 officer or a number of civilians.
11    Q.   I understand. Now, did you say, you might
12 have said this and it's making a little more sense
13 to me, of your hundred fires that were part of your
14 training maybe about half of them you did on your
15 own and the other half were team responses?
16    A.   No, I did probably 90 percent of them
17 alone.
18    Q.   These are your hundred fires?
19    A.   Of the hundred fires, right.
20    Q.   90 percent of them you were alone. The
21 reason why I ask --
22    A.   When I say alone, the only ATF person.
23    Q.   I'm trying to -- and it's probably here and
24 I'm just missing it, I'm still on vacation mode so
25 I'm not absorbing things as quick as I should.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 If you were the lead ATF person on 10 to 12 of the
 3 fires of the hundred but when you went to 90
 4 percent of those fires you were alone, that doesn't
 5 seem to add up to me. Because I would have thought
 6 if you were alone you would have been de facto the
 7 head person, so I might be missing something.
 8    A.   In Steve's report he has a -- he has a case
 9 file for this fire --
10    Q.   Yes, sir.
11    A.   My hundred fires, I didn't have to do that,
12 I didn't have to get a number for each fire, I
13 didn't have to prepare a three-page report for each
14 fire.
15               What I had to do for the hundred
16 fires was merely to document them, to record the
17 fact that I went to a fire that was a commercial or
18 a residential structure, the fire cause was
19 accidental or incendiary and what the dollar loss
20 was; that was all I had to do.
21    Q.   You are talking about your hundred fires?
22    A.   My hundred fires, yes.
23               The other 10 percent that I said that
24 I was a lead agent on, those I wrote cases on,
25 wrote investigative, full investigative reports on,

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 because they did pertain to an ATF violation.
 3 Again, I might add that at the time that I did my
 4 certification we were not allowed to do house
 5 fires, it had to be a commercial structure that was
 6 involved in interstate.
 7    Q.    So to see if I can follow you, what would
 8 you do, you would -- would you like hear about the
 9 fire on a scanner or something, or how would you
10 know to go to the particular fire in your hundred
11 training fires?
12    A.    I usually worked with the Philadelphia fire
13 marshal's office and would go out with a fire
14 marshal and just help him with his assignment for
15 the day.
16    Q.    Would they call you?
17    A.    I would make arrangements with them, hey,
18 on Thursday I'll be down and I, you know, get there
19 at the fire marshal's office at 7:00 in the
20 morning, stand at role call with them and be
21 assigned to a particular fire marshal and ride with
22 him for the day.
23    Q.    And I take it in a city like Philadelphia
24 just by being down there on a Thursday chances are
25 you are going to have a fire to go to?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   No question about it; yes, sir.
 3    Q.   So then in that situation you would go and
 4 you would be the only ATF person who would be
 5 there; is that right?
 6    A.   Yes, sir.
 7    Q.   And you would help out in any way you
 8 could; is that right?
 9    A.   Yes, sir, with the investigation.
10    Q.   But unless there was an actual ATF
11 violation, you didn't even have to do a report; is
12 that correct?
13    A.   That's correct, sir.
14    Q.   Would you make your own determination of
15 cause and origin or would you sort of work with the
16 fire marshal in those situations or what?
17    A.   In most of them I made my own determination
18 and, you know, was in conformance with his.
19    Q.   Now, you said there were 10 or 12 cases
20 where there actually was an ATF violation; is that
21 right?
22    A.   Yes, sir.
23    Q.   What do you mean by that, can you give me
24 an example of what you mean by that?
25    A.   Yes, we had an individual throw a Molotov

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 cocktail to start a house fire; that's a
 3 destructive device and a violation of federal law
 4 that you would write a case on.
 5    Q.   And then you would actually have to do the
 6 whole report?
 7    A.   Yes.
 8    Q.   And on those cases you viewed yourselves as
 9 being the lead investigator?
10    A.   The case agent, yes, sir. I consider the
11 two to be synonymous.
12    Q.   Well, that did help clarify because as I
13 think you said earlier of these hundred cases in
14 about 90 percent of them you were alone?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   Now, how many fires would you say you
17 investigated after you got your certification in
18 February 1990 while you were still with ATF? How
19 many fires did you investigate?
20    A.   75, 80.
21    Q.   Is that before you retired?
22    A.   Yes, sir.
23    Q.   Now, of those 75 to 80 -- well, let me ask
24 you this and let me go back for a second. Once you
25 got your certification did you still go to the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 Philadelphia fire marshal's office every Thursday
 3 the way you had in the past or did that change?
 4    A.   No, sir, that changed. There was other
 5 people to take that route.
 6    Q.   So these 75 to 80 fires that you became
 7 involved in after your certification, how did you
 8 become involved in those, what was the methodology
 9 of your being summoned?
10    A.   We would get calls from the local police
11 department, the fire marshals wanting assistance,
12 or, you know, in some cases we would find out about
13 it, you would hear about a fire and you would go to
14 the scene and check it out and talk to the guy and,
15 you know, do you want any help, can we provide any
16 assistance to you, that type of...
17    Q.   Of those 75 to 80 fires, how many of those
18 were you the lead investigator on?
19    A.   Again, it's just a wild guess but maybe
20 five or six.
21    Q.   Of those 75 to 80 fires, how many of them
22 involved the whole response team that you
23 described, and if not the whole team, a larger
24 contingent of ATF agents?
25    A.   Maybe 40 percent of them.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Now, what were the other 60 percent? Were
 3 they just --
 4    A.   Where I would respond and just provide the
 5 help that -- whatever I could.
 6    Q.   By yourself?
 7    A.   By myself.
 8    Q.   Now, on those issues where you respond by
 9 yourself you would be the only ATF person there,
10 obviously?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   Would you have to prepare a report for all
13 those fires?
14    A.   No, sir. No, if there was not an ATF
15 violation I didn't have to prepare a report.
16    Q.   And would you only consider yourself the
17 lead ATF person if you actually had to prepare a
18 report?
19    A.   Yes, sir.
20    Q.   Now, on the other 40 percent which were the
21 team responses were you the lead ATF investigator
22 on any of those fires where there was a team
23 presence?
24    A.   And again, we have to differentiate
25 between -- I was the team leader on the Meridian

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 Bank fire. I don't know who the lead agent -- I
 3 can't recall who the lead agent was who was
 4 responsible for writing the report but I was the
 5 team leader on that for our response team and we
 6 worked in conjunction with, of course, the
 7 Philadelphia Fire Department.
 8    Q.   I'll get to that in a second. But with
 9 respect to the 40 percent or so fires that you had
10 after you were certified, the 40 percent was team
11 responses, how many of those were you the lead
12 investigator on? Are there any others other than
13 the Meridian fire?
14    A.   On all of those I would have been the team
15 leader, but I would not have been the case agent
16 that wrote for it.
17    Q.   I thought you had said earlier that the
18 case agent who wrote the report was the lead
19 investigator for that particular fire. Is that
20 different?
21    A.   He's responsible for the whole nine yards.
22 He may not have any, you know, expertise at all in
23 doing fires, so, I mean, the fire scene we would do
24 as a team, I would do for him.
25    Q.   Are you saying the person who did the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 report is the person who is responsible for the
 3 whole investigation?
 4    A.   The case agent. The lead agent, the case
 5 agent.
 6    Q.   Now, are you saying that the case agent
 7 assigned to a particular fire may not have any
 8 knowledge about how to investigate a fire?
 9    A.   Well, he -- no, how to do the cause and
10 origin. He may be a tremendous financial fire
11 investigator but not do the cause and origin.
12    Q.   So that person is the case agent, the
13 person you talked about?
14    A.   Yes.
15    Q.   And what would the team leader do?
16    A.   The team leader would do the fire scene for
17 him.
18    Q.   Would the team leader be the one in charge
19 of the cause and origin investigation?
20    A.   Yes.
21    Q.   So when I was asking you before -- I don't
22 want to have to go back and reask that series of
23 questions, but obviously when I was asking you
24 about the team leader I'm looking for the person
25 who was running the cause and origin

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 investigation.
 3    A.   Okay.
 4    Q.   Did you understand that when I asked those
 5 questions? Would your answers be any different
 6 when I asked you how many fires were you the team
 7 leader on?
 8    A.   No, no, it would be -- it would be one and
 9 the same.
10    Q.   Now, with respect to the 40 percent of the
11 fires that, after you became certified, that
12 involved the team response, you were the team
13 leader on five or six of those?
14    A.   No, I was the case agent on five or six of
15 those, I was team leader on every one of them where
16 you had a team response. That was a district
17 response and there would also be the few other
18 responses that we did around the countryside with
19 the national response team where I would just
20 participate.
21    Q.   Was Meridian a national response team or
22 was it a district response?
23    A.   It was a district response.
24    Q.   Was the national involved, or?
25    A.   Because of the type of building, we brought

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 in some of the other CFIs around the country,
 3 certified fire investigators around the countryside
 4 so that they could see, experience, a high-rise
 5 fire because they didn't have them in their cities.
 6    Q.   Sure. Were you the head person from ATF on
 7 the Meridian fire?
 8    A.   I was team leader of our response team,
 9 yes, sir.
10    Q.   What did you do with respect to the
11 investigation of the Meridian fire?
12    A.   I worked side by side with Clyde Mullard,
13 who was the fire marshal assigned, and we worked
14 the fire scene and dug out the place up there.
15    Q.   Did someone else do the actual report in
16 that case?
17    A.   Yes.
18    Q.   But was everybody at ATF at the Meridian
19 fire, did they report to you?
20    A.   The guys working on the scene did, yes, the
21 guys and gals.
22    Q.   Were you responsible for shepherding that
23 entire investigation to its conclusion for ATF?
24    A.   Just the fire scene.
25    Q.   Can you explain, what do you mean just the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 fire scene?
 3    A.   Well, I mean my responsibility ends when we
 4 cleaned the truck up, cleaned the tools up to that
 5 investigation, to prepare the cause and origin
 6 portion, my responsibility for the rest of the
 7 investigation is over and done with.
 8    Q.   Did you participate in calling the cause
 9 and origin in that fire?
10    A.   Yes.
11    Q.   Was that your decision as far as ATF or was
12 that a shared decision or what?
13    A.   It was my decision, it was Clyde's
14 decision, it was everybody's decision. I mean it
15 was -- the evidence is kind of irrefutable. I mean
16 there was no need to have a basic decision, you can
17 only call it one way when it's laying there.
18    Q.   Clyde Mullard, is he with Philadelphia?
19    A.   He was with Philadelphia.
20    Q.   But as far as the ATF goes, were you the
21 person who was responsible for making the ultimate
22 call at the Meridian fire?
23    A.   As far as ATF was concerned, yes, yeah.
24    Q.   Did you ever give a deposition in that
25 case? I know there were a lot of deps taken.

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Yeah. Yeah, we did.
 3    Q.   When you say "we"?
 4    A.   I did. We, you know, teamwise; it seemed
 5 like everybody on the team was.
 6    Q.   Just so we are clear: Are you saying that
 7 you would have been the head person in charge of
 8 calling the cause and origin of about 40 percent of
 9 the fires that you were involved in after you
10 became certified as an investigator?
11    A.   Right.
12    Q.   Now, were there any fires after you became
13 certified where you did the sketching such as you
14 had before, you took the photos, or where you had
15 any other different kinds of jobs?
16    A.   Well, I'm sure there was, yes.
17    Q.   Why would you have done that if you are the
18 team leader? Do you know what I'm saying?
19    A.   They were national response team fires that
20 I went to, fires outside of this region.
21    Q.   Now, the last thing is, and I think I'm
22 putting all this together here, when you were doing
23 your hundred fires --
24    A.   Yes.
25    Q.   -- during that year or so when you had to

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 do these hundred fires, were you also going to
 3 national response team --
 4    A.   Yes.
 5    Q.   -- fire scenes as well?
 6    A.   Yes.
 7    Q.   Did they count in your hundred or were they
 8 over and above your hundred?
 9    A.   They were over and above the hundred.
10    Q.   Do you have any idea how many of those you
11 would have done in that year, year and a half or so
12 when you were trying to get your 100?
13    A.   Five or ten.
14    Q.   And on those fires you probably did one of
15 those tasks that you were talking about?
16    A.   Right, sir.
17    Q.   How do they decide at ATF when it's a
18 national response team assignment who is the head
19 person for the national response assignment? Is it
20 geography, seniority, what?
21    A.   Seniority in the area, right.
22    Q.   By "the area," you mean --
23    A.   The region, yes.
24    Q.   The Meridian fire was not a national
25 response team?

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.    No, no, they didn't want to call it that.
 3    Q.    You retired from ATF in 1991?
 4    A.    '91, yes.
 5    Q.    Did you immediately go to the private
 6 sector?
 7    A.    Yes, sir.
 8    Q.    You were at a company before Decker-Neff?
 9    A.    Yes, sir.
10    Q.    Not too long. What happened there, what
11 caused you to --
12    A.    The company folded.
13    Q.    How many fires would you say you've
14 investigated since Decker-Neff Investigations
15 started?
16    A.    120, 150.
17    Q.    This is since you've gotten out of ATF?
18    A.    Yes.
19    Q.    Approximately 120 to 150?
20    A.    Yes.
21    Q.    Now, in those situations, because you are
22 in private practice, were you pretty much on your
23 own?
24    A.    Yes, sir.
25    Q.    Were you able to determine the cause and

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 origin in all of those 120 to 150 fires?
 3    A.   Yes, sir, I believe I was.
 4    Q.   Were any of them undetermined or were you
 5 able to make a finding in all of them?
 6    A.   I don't recall any that were undetermined.
 7    Q.   Is it possible, and this may be impossible,
 8 for you to generalize about your typical client
 9 once you got in the private sector?
10    A.   Usually an insurance company.
11    Q.   Any region that you cover geographywise?
12    A.   Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware.
13    Q.   What insurance companies have you worked
14 for?
15    A.   State Farm, All State, Nationwide,
16 Prudential. I think that probably covers the
17 majority of the fires.
18    Q.   What State Farm offices have you worked
19 with?
20    A.   Willow Grove; Marlton, New Jersey;
21 Farmingdale, New Jersey; Union, New Jersey.
22    Q.   Can you recall any specific State Farm
23 people you've worked with?
24    A.   Yeah. Anthony Settedacado, Ed Turner,
25 Sheppard. What the heck was Sheppard's name?

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 Dermott Dolan was the -- is the SIU chief over
 3 there.
 4    Q.   What --
 5    A.   Special investigations unit chief.
 6    Q.   Where, out of?
 7    A.   Out of Union, although they just moved
 8 their office, but it's at the North Jersey office.
 9    Q.   You made reference to your CV, that there's
10 one article relative to arson investigation as a
11 pending publication at this time. What article is
12 that?
13    A.   It's an article on natural gas.
14    Q.   What made you write about that?
15    A.   Preparing for testimony on a natural gas
16 fire in Philadelphia and to bring the attorney up
17 to speed on what he was talking about, I found I
18 pretty well prepared the article, so I put some
19 finishing touches on it and sent it off.
20    Q.   Where is it going to be published?
21    A.   Burning Embers with the New Jersey AII
22 publication.
23    Q.   I couldn't tell from your resume. Here at
24 the end you said coauthored an article pertaining
25 to chemical product which was discovered to start a

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 warehouse fire. Is that the same article or is
 3 that a different article?
 4    A.   No, that's a different article.
 5    Q.   What is that about?
 6    A.   That's a spontaneous combustion fire and
 7 that's what I prepared my paper on through my CFI,
 8 was spontaneous combustion. I'm not sure whether
 9 that was ever published or not.
10               But this particular article pertained
11 to a product called Oil Bond that is, you know,
12 great for picking up oil but it will spontaneously
13 combust if it gets wet and they subsequently
14 changed the formula for that.
15    Q.   Of the 120 to 150 fires that you have
16 investigated since you went out to private
17 practice, how many of those would you say were
18 arson-related fires?
19    A.   Maybe 15 percent, which is a high number,
20 but there's been a number of fires that I have done
21 in New Jersey that were incendiary fires that
22 basically insurance companies just wanted to report
23 for -- you know, wanted to report prior to whatever
24 they would get from the police department.
25    Q.   Sure. Was Steven Avato ever on any of your

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 teams?
 3    A.   Yes.
 4    Q.   When was that?
 5    A.   I think he worked on the Meridian fire with
 6 us and I feel -- I can't specify any other fires in
 7 the Philadelphia area, but I feel sure that he had
 8 worked fires with us as a district response team.
 9 Now, it is possible that I may have confused that
10 because he was also -- we were also team members on
11 the district response team for entry control for
12 executing search warrants, raids.
13    Q.   But you knew Steven Avato when you were
14 with ATF; is that right?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   How many years -- I'm terrible, my
17 short-term retentive power is horrible. How many
18 years would you say your ATF career overlapped with
19 his career?
20    A.   My time recollection is not real great
21 there either, but I would say maybe three, four
22 years. It seemed like that period at any rate.
23    Q.   Do you have any idea how many fires you and
24 he would have worked together in one capacity or
25 another over those three, four years?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   No.
 3    Q.   Did you know him pretty well? Did you
 4 consider him an acquaintance?
 5    A.   Yes.
 6    Q.   Are you friends?
 7    A.   Yes.
 8    Q.   Do you socialize at all?
 9    A.   No.
10    Q.   Do you do anything -- have you ever done
11 anything --
12    A.   Outside the job?
13    Q.   Yes.
14    A.   No.
15    Q.   When is the last time you saw Steven Avato?
16    A.   Probably March, April.
17    Q.   March, April, of?
18    A.   No, we may have been -- yeah, April, May
19 of '98.
20    Q.   That's this year?
21    A.   Yes, this year.
22    Q.   What was the occasion for you to see
23 Mr. Avato in March or April of 1998?
24    A.   I wanted to get a copy of his computer
25 modeling program.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.    What is that, the computer modeling
 3 program?
 4    A.    It's a computer program that you can punch
 5 in or enter the size of rooms, the opening, the
 6 fuels, and it gives you an approximate period to
 7 flash-over, how long a fire is going to burn, I
 8 believe some temperatures can be obtained.
 9    Q.    This computer modeling, is that a tool that
10 ATF routinely uses in its investigation of fires?
11    A.    I wouldn't say routinely uses but it's a
12 handy tool to have, to utilize.
13    Q.    Is it recognized as being accurate as far
14 as predicting in a given situation when flash-over
15 would occur and how long a fire would go?
16    A.    Yes, with the proper, you know, when you
17 have all of the parameters, you have your room,
18 your ventilation, your fuel load, it's accurate,
19 yes.
20    Q.    Is it something that you routinely use in
21 your investigations?
22    A.    No.
23    Q.    How come?
24    A.    Because I have the old version and it's not
25 fail safe. Mine is -- the old version that I have

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 is not that versatile.
 3    Q.    What is the vintage of your version?
 4    A.    1989.
 5    Q.    I take it Mr. Avato had a more recent
 6 vintage version?
 7    A.    Yes.
 8    Q.    What is the vintage of his version?
 9    A.    I'm not sure, sir.
10    Q.    But more recent than yours?
11    A.    More recent than the one I have.
12    Q.    And you consider it superior to the one
13 that you have?
14    A.    Yes.
15    Q.    So you met with Mr. Avato in March or April
16 of 1998 to try to --
17    A.    Get a copy of that.
18    Q.    And when you say get a copy, you mean on a
19 disk or something?
20    A.    Yes, sir.
21    Q.    Were you able to get a copy of it?
22    A.    Not a functioning copy, no, sir. (Witness
23 laughs.)
24    Q.    You are having trouble with that old
25 computer?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   I certainly am.
 3    Q.   So I take it he gave you a disk but you
 4 couldn't get it to work?
 5    A.   Yes. I believe it's a four-disk program.
 6 We got it into two disks, one disk worked and the
 7 other disk wouldn't.
 8    Q.   And these are from Mr. Avato?
 9    A.   Yes.
10    Q.   Can you purchase these things in the
11 market?
12    A.   Yes.
13    Q.   Have you tried to do that?
14    A.   No, sir.
15    Q.   How come?
16    A.   I haven't had the time to try to -- I think
17 they are available from the National Institute of
18 Technology, from NIST, but it's -- it would be just
19 as easy when I hook up with Steve these days and
20 get another copy.
21    Q.   Have you yourself ever done any computer
22 modeling in connection with the Camiolo fire?
23    A.   No, I haven't.
24    Q.   Now, to your knowledge, has Mr. Avato?
25    A.   Yes.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Did he share with you the results of his
 3 computer modeling?
 4    A.   We talked about it, yes, sir.
 5    Q.   Did you talk about this in March or April
 6 of 1998 or before? Or after!
 7                MR. COMETA: That covers it all.
 8                THE WITNESS: Yes, we discussed it in
 9 April and, actually, I met with him -- that would
10 be May or June.
12    Q.   Of what year are we talking about now?
13    A.   '98.
14    Q.   You discussed his computer modeling in
15 April of 1998?
16    A.   Bear with me for a moment.
17    Q.   You are looking for your report?
18    A.   Yes, sir, I have it right here. (Witness
19 reading.) April of '97 we discussed it. I may
20 have met with him in April or May of -- I met with
21 him in April or May of '98.
22    Q.   Because I was going to get to your report.
23    A.   Yes.
24    Q.   And maybe we'll do it right now.
25                Turning to Page 6 of your report --

 1                     RONALD DECKER
 2 and you've got a copy in front of you?
 3      A.   Yes, sir.
 4      Q.   -- you indicate in the second paragraph, on
 5    "April 16, 1997, I conferred with confidential
 6 source 19011901, a trained firefighter and fire
 7 investigator."
 8      A.   Right.
 9      Q.   Is that confidential source you are
10 referring to there Steven Avato?
11      A.   Yes, sir.
12      Q.   Is there some particular reason why you
13 referred to him as a confidential source?
14      A.   Yes, sir.
15      Q.   Why is that?
16      A.   I didn't want to identify him in a report
17 that is going to float all around the countryside
18 and create him problems working with local law
19 enforcement.
20      Q.   Was there any particular reason in your
21 mind that you could or could not chat with Steven
22 Avato if you wanted to?
23      A.   No.
24      Q.   From your days at ATF, were ATF
25 investigators allowed to communicate freely with

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 anyone who inquired of them on the subject of an
 3 ongoing investigation?
 4               MR. COMETA: I'm going to object to
 5 the characterization "ongoing investigation" as
 6 opposed to what Mr. Avato's testimony was regarding
 7 it was a closed file.
 8               MR. McMONIGLE: Okay, that's noted
 9 and that's a fair clarification.
10               THE WITNESS: And that was my
11 hesitation, an ongoing investigation cannot be
12 discussed. A closed file, there's no problem with
13 discussions.
15    Q.   So the closed files can be discussed?
16    A.   Yes.
17    Q.   And you viewed the Camiolo matter as being
18 closed as far as ATF was concerned?
19    A.   Yes. ATF was not really involved in this
20 because there's no federal violation and it was
21 just a matter of Steve having prepared the -- a
22 report on the matter.
23    Q.   So as far as --
24    A.   In fact, I think -- no, I withdraw that.
25    Q.   As far as the Camiolo residence fire, to

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 your knowledge ATF jurisdiction was not triggered?
 3    A.   Right, sir.
 4    Q.   And to your knowledge ATF really did not do
 5 a formal investigation of the Camiolo fire; is that
 6 right?
 7    A.   Yes, sir.
 8    Q.   Your understanding is that Mr. Avato was
 9 there because it was part of his training to be a
10 CFI?
11    A.   That's correct, sir.
12    Q.   And because he had done that and because he
13 had handed in his report, ATF's job on that fire
14 was over; is that right?
15    A.   Right.
16    Q.   So therefore you felt that you could talk
17 with him freely?
18    A.   Right.
19    Q.   And he did talk with you?
20    A.   Yes.
21    Q.   And the reason you gave him this
22 confidential source number -- by the way, is there
23 any significance to that number? It's like eight
24 digits and has numbers. Did you just make a number
25 up or was that some numerical code?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   That is some numerical code which --
 3    Q.   I don't want you to give off --
 4    A.   -- for the life of me escapes me right at
 5 the moment, but I have a -- I have a sheet that --
 6 no. (Witness reading.) No, no, it doesn't make
 7 sense.
 8               MR. COMETA: Off the record.
 9               (Discussion held off the record.)
11    Q.   While we were off the record, sir, we were
12 trying to figure out this code and you think that
13 the 19 might stand for the 19th letter of the
14 alphabet and 01 is the first letter of the alphabet
15 which would give you SASA which could be Special
16 Agent Steven Avato?
17    A.   That's correct, sir.
18    Q.   And you used the number instead of his name
19 because you wanted to protect him; is that right?
20    A.   I didn't want to cause him any problem with
21 the law enforcement community, yes, sir.
22    Q.   And you think that the law enforcement
23 community would not appreciate the fact that he was
24 involved here somehow, or what?
25    A.   Yes, sir.

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Can you explain your answer?
 3    A.   It certainly didn't help their case by
 4 having him prepare a report saying it was an
 5 accidental fire and for him to basically I guess
 6 just express his opinion, it was contrary to
 7 theirs, and it's something that is going to cause
 8 him problems, there's no question about it.
 9    Q.   Now, do you think -- I mean as you all
10 know, he's being deposed in this case --
11    A.   Yes.
12    Q.   -- so it's sort of out in the open now.
13    A.   Mm-hmm.
14    Q.   For better or worse.
15               Do you think it's going to cause him
16 problems, and if so, why?
17    A.   He's going to be looked upon as an
18 outsider, as not a loyal member of the following,
19 if you will.
20    Q.   One of the things when I was reading your
21 report, and maybe you could help us now while you
22 are here, is on Page 6 you start with this
23 paragraph "on April 16th, 1997, I conferred with
24 confidential source," et cetera.
25    A.   Mm-hmm.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   And then it struck me in your report that
 3 you begin to summarize what the confidential source
 4 said; is that right?
 5    A.   Yes, sir.
 6    Q.   And then at some point, and I can't quite
 7 tell, I assume you end the portion of your report
 8 as to what you were told by Steven Avato? Do you
 9 see what I'm saying? So I'm trying to figure out
10 what portion of Page 6 and Page 7, which are the
11 last two pages of your report, what portions of
12 these two pages are directly attributable to what
13 Steven Avato told you, and if you want to just go
14 down by paragraph, we can just go paragraph by
15 paragraph, starting at the first one.
16    A.   Okay.
17    Q.   He said he believes that the Camiolo fire
18 is an accidental fire; correct?
19    A.   Okay.
20    Q.   That's clearly attributable to Mr. Avato?
21    A.   Right.
22    Q.   The next paragraph that starts with "he
23 stated his belief," is that all attributable to
24 Mr. Avato?
25    A.   Yes.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Now, there seems to be a little note here,
 3 "note, all of the furniture was disposed of prior
 4 to the time of my examination of the fire scene."
 5 That struck me as almost a footnote, except it's
 6 not at the foot but sort of a side note that you,
 7 Mr. Decker, were putting in at this particular part
 8 of the report to refer not to what Mr. Avato said
 9 but to your observations; is that correct?
10    A.   Right.
11    Q.   And I take it all the furniture was
12 disposed of before you examined the fire scene; is
13 that right?
14    A.   Yes, sir.
15    Q.   And you went to the fire scene in February
16 of 1997; is that right?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   Did you have the opportunity to conduct a
19 first-hand inspection of any of the furniture that
20 was subject to this fire?
21    A.   There was one piece of furniture that
22 hadn't been disposed of that was -- and I don't
23 know what it was. The answer is no, I did not see
24 it. There was one piece of furniture out there, it
25 was frozen with the carpets and ice and snow there

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 that would have been available had I taken and
 3 melted that ice and snow. And God knows what was
 4 underneath there, but I, you know, I did not get a
 5 chance to see any of the furniture.
 6    Q.   This fire happened in September of '96;
 7 right?
 8    A.   That's correct, sir.
 9    Q.   And your first opportunity to get out there
10 was February of 1997; is that correct?
11    A.   That's correct, sir.
12    Q.   And if you had your druthers you would have
13 preferred to have been there a little closer to the
14 actual date of the fire; is that correct?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   Because as a well-trained fire investigator
17 you know that the sooner you get to a fire after it
18 occurs, the better your chances are of making an
19 accurate finding with respect to cause and origin;
20 true?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   On the other hand, going in in February you
23 were going to do the best you could?
24    A.   That's correct, sir.
25    Q.   But what you are saying is because the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 weather and the backyard, the furniture was all
 3 frozen and you didn't have a chance to get a
 4 firsthand inspection; is that right?
 5    A.   Most of the furniture had already been
 6 disposed of.
 7    Q.   By that you mean trashed, gone?
 8    A.   Trashed, gone.
 9    Q.   But there was, what, a piece in the
10 backyard?
11    A.   I remember a piece in the backyard that was
12 underneath some rugs.
13    Q.   But you weren't able to do a firsthand
14 investigation of that because of the snow and the
15 ice?
16    A.   Right. It was just the one piece.
17    Q.   All right. Getting back to this report --
18    A.   Okay.
19    Q.   -- and now we are trying to see what
20 Mr. Avato said to you. And the reason I'm doing
21 this is, there are no quotes in this report.
22    A.   Right.
23    Q.   So as a result I have to try to read, look
24 at the paragraph and figure out what are your
25 statements and what are Mr. Avato's. Let me ask

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 you this: In light of the fact that you told us
 3 now that you weren't able to see the furniture,
 4 were your descriptions as to burn patterns on the
 5 furniture, was that based upon what Mr. Avato told
 6 you?
 7    A.   I believe this was, yes, sir.
 8    Q.   Well, let's go to the next paragraph which
 9 begins, "If gasoline was poured in the center of
10 the room" -- that's something that Mr. Avato told
11 you, that paragraph?
12    A.   No, that's pretty well fact.
13    Q.   All right. Let me just read that whole
14 sentence, "If gasoline was poured in the center of
15 the room where the burn pattern is located, all
16 these pieces of furniture would display evidence of
17 low burn. The bottom of the end table would have
18 been burnt more on the front than the side."
19 That's the end of that paragraph.
20               Have I read that correctly?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   You indicated in your last answer that
23 that's fact and just so we are clear, something
24 that Mr. Avato might have told you could also be
25 fact, I'm not really necessarily distinguishing

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 between the two, I'm just asking you whether those
 3 two sentences that I just read, did Mr. Avato tell
 4 that to you or is that your own conclusion or is it
 5 both? Do you see what I'm saying?
 6    A.    Yes. I understand your question, sir.
 7    Q.    Did Mr. Avato tell those two sentences to
 8 you, was that his opinion?
 9    A.    I don't want to -- I'm not sure, but I
10 believe that that was -- just this was a matter of
11 discussion, we talked about the end table being
12 burnt and if the pour was in the center of the
13 floor it would have to be more on the bottom, whose
14 opinion -- it's just -- I mean it's just logical as
15 to the location and the natural reaction of a fire
16 if gasoline was there. And I guess maybe the short
17 answer would be that was our combined opinion.
18    Q.    Okay.
19    A.    I mean it's a discussion more than an
20 opinion.
21    Q.    The next sentence says, "Additionally, all
22 the initial samples of carpet and debris were
23 negative, only the wood flooring was positive for
24 gasoline. The carpet and padding should have
25 retained some evidence of gasoline if gasoline was

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 used." Is that what Mr. Avato told you, is that
 3 what you told him, was it a joint discussion, I'm
 4 trying to find out who is the source of that
 5 paragraph?
 6    A.   Again, that's a joint discussion. I think
 7 we both feel that the carpet and padding should
 8 have retained some evidence of that gasoline. The
 9 chemist also feels that.
10    Q.   Mr. Freed?
11    A.   Mr. Freed.
12    Q.   The next paragraph here, I'm just trying to
13 save a little time by not reading the whole thing,
14 "Pennsylvania state police samples reportedly were
15 positive." Did you know that yourself at that
16 point in time, did Mr. Avato tell you or what?
17    A.   I knew that from Upper Moreland Township
18 had told me that, both the fire marshal and
19 Detective Tidwell had told me that the state police
20 samples were positive for gasoline.
21    Q.   So this paragraph is not really
22 attributable to Mr. Avato?
23    A.   No.
24    Q.   But did you --
25    A.   But we discussed it.

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Got you. Now, the next sentence, and again
 3 it seems to be getting back to Mr. Avato, it begins
 4 with the word he, "he believed that the front door
 5 was opened when firefighters arrived on scene."
 6 Who is the "he" in that sentence?
 7    A.   Steve.
 8    Q.   The next sentence is "He further stated
 9 that he is of the opinion that the room went to
10 flash-over about the time that the firefighters
11 arrived on scene." Whose opinion was that?
12    A.   That was his.
13    Q.   That's what he told you?
14    A.   Mm-hmm.
15    Q.   Did you share that opinion?
16    A.   And I shared that with him.
17    Q.   Then there's reference to computer
18 modeling. Whose computer modeling was that?
19    A.   Steve's.
20    Q.   You hadn't done any as of that point in
21 time?
22    A.   That's correct.
23    Q.   Now, if you go to the last sentence on this
24 page it says, "Flash-over would account for the
25 high burn on the furniture, the top of the

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 fireplace mantel and the fairly even burn on the
 3 rug." Is that Steve, is that you, is that both of
 4 you? I'm trying to find out whose opinion is
 5 that.
 6    A.   Again, that's a combined opinion and I
 7 wasn't aware that there was, you know, a fairly
 8 even burn over all of the rug because I only saw
 9 portions of the rug.
10    Q.   Now, if we go to the next page, it's Page 7
11 and it says, "Reportedly the paid members of the
12 Willow Grove Fire Department also believe that this
13 was an accidental fire." I guess my question is,
14 now I can't tell whether you are invoking another
15 source or whether Steven Avato told you what the
16 Willow Grove Fire Department thinks. I'm trying to
17 find out what the source is in your report of this
18 paragraph. It's Page 7, up at the top.
19    A.   (Witness reading.) I believe I would have
20 to say that that came from Steve.
21    Q.   Now, there's also a reference to Montgomery
22 County detectives and Detective Tidwell. Are you
23 saying that Mr. Avato told you what the detectives
24 and Detective Tidwell reportedly stated?
25    A.   Yeah, that came out during the course of

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 the -- of our conversation with the flash-over.
 3    Q.   Did you ever speak with Montgomery County
 4 detectives and Detective Tidwell yourself regarding
 5 whether flash-over did or did not occur?
 6    A.   No. I talked to Detective Tidwell on one
 7 occasion and he indicated that all he could tell me
 8 was that it was an incendiary fire and that the
 9 state police had positively identified gasoline and
10 that any other further information would have to
11 come from the prosecutor's office.
12    Q.   Because their investigation was ongoing?
13    A.   Yes.
14    Q.   Well, the last sentence here where it says
15 "but cannot explain the lack of low burn and only
16 the presence of high burn on the furniture." Do
17 you see that?
18    A.   Yes.
19    Q.   Is that from Mr. Avato or is that you
20 coming back in now to sort of address the facts
21 here or is that Mr. Avato's opinion?
22    A.   That's, again, is our discussion. I'm not
23 personally aware of -- I didn't have the
24 opportunity to observe the furniture, per se, so we
25 don't have low burn on the furniture but we do have

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 high burn on the furniture. The only way you are
 3 going to explain that is a flash-over.
 4    Q.   You obviously took some photos when you
 5 were there.
 6    A.   Yes, sir.
 7    Q.   But you didn't have the opportunity to take
 8 any photos of the furniture; is that right?
 9    A.   That's correct.
10    Q.   And Mr. Avato has testified on Friday that
11 he didn't take any photos, so therefore you didn't
12 have any photos from him; correct?
13    A.   Correct.
14    Q.   So would it be fair to say that the only
15 photographs that you had with which to base your
16 opinion on contained in this report were the ones
17 that you took?
18    A.   Yes, sir.
19    Q.   And things like burn patterns on furniture
20 can be important in investigating the cause and
21 origin of a fire; is that right?
22    A.   Yes, sir.
23    Q.   So all you could do in order to come to
24 your opinion, since you didn't have any photos
25 yourself and you didn't see the furniture yourself,

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 was you had to rely on what Mr. Avato told you
 3 about the furniture; is that right?
 4    A.   That's correct. And he's a trained
 5 firefighter and fire investigator.
 6    Q.   Who called who first? Did you call him or
 7 did he call you?
 8    A.   I called him.
 9    Q.   Did you call him because you knew him and
10 because since he was with ATF you felt a natural
11 kinship with him as an ATF investigator?
12    A.   Yes, sir.
13    Q.   Was it your understanding at the time you
14 prepared your report that, with respect to the
15 furniture, there was a lack of low burn and there
16 was only the presence of high burn on it?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   Was your understanding that there was a
19 lack of low burn and only the presence of high
20 burn, was that significant to you in arriving to
21 your opinion?
22    A.   Yes, sir. And I might add that that not
23 only is -- that's what Steve told me, but the
24 photographs of the rug tend to indicate the -- tend
25 to support that statement.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2     Q.  Now, the photographs of the rug are photos
 3 that you took?
 4     A.  Yes, sir.
 5     Q.  I'm going to get to that, those photos, in
 6 a second.
 7                MR. McMONIGLE: Off the record for a
 8 second.
 9                (Discussion held off the record.)
10                (A luncheon recess is taken.)
11                (Whereupon, Pamela Harrison, RPR,
12 leaves the deposition room and the following is
13 reported by Judith D. Barit, RPR:)
14                AFTERNOON SESSION
16     Q.  With respect to your report, is there
17 anything else in the report that would be either a
18 quote or based upon what Avato told you?
19                We were focusing on pages 6 and 7.
20     A.  Right.
21     Q.  It looked to me like that was all of the
22 Avato section. In case I'm wrong, you can tell
23 me.
24     A.  No, that would be it.
25     Q.  Okay. Have you spoken with Mr. Avato since

 1                  RONALD DECKER
 2 he gave his deposition, which I think was just last
 3 Friday?
 4    A.   No, I haven't.
 5    Q.   You indicated you had this one conversation
 6 with Mr. Avato on April 16th, 1997.
 7    A.   That's correct.
 8    Q.   Was that in person or was that over the
 9 phone?
10               He's the one that you relied upon in
11 your report.
12    A.   I believe that was a -- I think that was a
13 telephone call, yes.
14    Q.   Now, did you speak with him -- when was the
15 next time you spoke with him after that?
16    A.   I believe that was April/May of this year.
17    Q.   So, basically, almost a year or so later?
18    A.   Yes.
19    Q.   You had no contact with him in that interim
20 year?
21    A.   If I did, I don't recall it, and it didn't
22 concern this case.
23    Q.   Now, had you tried to run any of your own
24 computer modeling in that year between April '97
25 and April/May '98?

 1                     RONALD DECKER
 2    A.    No. I did look at my stuff and decided
 3 that it was just too out of date, wouldn't cut the
 4 mustard.
 5    Q.    Now, one of the things you spoke about in
 6 April/May 1998 was the computer modelling.
 7    A.    Yes.
 8    Q.    And he tried to make his model available to
 9 you, but it turned out it didn't work.
10    A.    Right.
11    Q.    Did you discuss his modeling that he had
12 done and how it pertained to the Camiolo fire?
13    A.    No.
14    Q.    Did you discuss anything about the Camiolo
15 fire in this either phone call or meeting?
16                 MR. COMETA: Just for clarification,
17 when is this?
18                 MR. McMONIGLE: April/May '98.
19                 THE WITNESS: This is the '98
20 operation.
21                 MR. McMONIGLE: Yes.
22                 THE WITNESS: No.
24    Q.    Well, I wouldn't say operation.
25 Conversation.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Conversation, right.
 3               No, not significantly, other than --
 4 he had been told by his supervisor that, you know,
 5 because of the problems that we had, that he was
 6 not to release any additional information but that
 7 the computer program was, you know, was available
 8 and we could share that.
 9    Q.   Did you have any other conversations with
10 Avato?
11    A.   I think that was all. I've tried to
12 contact him a couple of times since, but he's been
13 away.
14    Q.   And your purpose for contacting him was
15 what?
16    A.   Get that second disc so that mine would
17 work.
18    Q.   Have you interviewed any of the fire
19 fighters who were at the scene other than Avato,
20 because he was actually one of the fire fighters at
21 the scene?
22    A.   No.
23    Q.   Are you aware through Avato or anyone else
24 what the fire fighters observed?
25    A.   Only in -- I guess only in the report

 1                      RONALD DECKER
 2 status that I have.
 3      Q.   I don't understand your answer.
 4      A.   The only information I have on the fire
 5 fighters, I believe, is that which I have in these
 6    -- you know, in the reports.
 7      Q.   From Sullivan, Klein?
 8      A.   From Sullivan, Klein.
 9      Q.   Et cetera?
10      A.   Yeah.
11      Q.   I understand.
12                 You have no outside information from
13 personal interviews or any other source?
14      A.   No.
15      Q.   What about police officers, have you
16 interviewed any of the police officers who arrived
17 at the scene shortly after the fire was announced?
18      A.   No. I talked to Detective Tidwell who
19 advised me that there was ongoing criminal
20 investigation and that was -- he's not going to
21 release any information.
22                 The fire fighters have advised me
23 that -- you know, they've been told that they're
24 not to discuss the matter.
25      Q.   Would you say with respect to the police

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 officers, just like with the fire personnel, what
 3 you know about what any police officers observed or
 4 said is in the reports that you have?
 5    A.   Yes.
 6    Q.   You don't know anything outside of that; is
 7 that correct?
 8    A.   Right.
 9    Q.   Was there anything from what you saw in
10 your reports about what the initial fire fighters
11 saw or what the initial police officers saw that
12 you considered significant to your investigation?
13    A.   Not glaringly so, no.
14    Q.   Now, how were you contacted with respect to
15 this investigation?
16    A.   I was contacted by David Ziegler, another
17 private investigator who told me that he had
18 referred my name to Mr. Cometa, and I should give
19 him a call.
20    Q.   So you called Mr. Cometa?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   And were you assigned this case?
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   And what was the nature of your
25 assignment? What were you told to do?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Do cause and origin.
 3    Q.   And what did you do in order to perform the
 4 assignment? What did you do?
 5    A.   Called Paul and made arrangements, you
 6 know, when we were going to meet, got my equipment
 7 together and went there.
 8    Q.   Did you interview Paul Camiolo either
 9 before you went to the scene or at the scene?
10    A.   Yes, sir.
11    Q.   Which?
12    A.   At the scene.
13    Q.   Was it tape-recorded or was it just a
14 question and answer session or what?
15    A.   Just a conversation.
16    Q.   Did you take notes of the conversation?
17    A.   Yes, sir.
18    Q.   And where are those notes?
19    A.   If they exist, they're here. If not, they
20 were written up and destroyed.
21    Q.   What we'll do is I'll probably go through
22 your notes. You're looking in the manila folder
23 with your notes which I'm having paginated right
24 now. Time willing, I'll get back to that at the
25 end. There might be some notes that are somewhat

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 germane to that area.
 3                But it definitely wasn't
 4 tape-recorded.
 5    A.   No.
 6    Q.   What's your recollection of what Paul told
 7 you as far as the events on the night of the fire?
 8    A.   That his parents had gone to bed, he sat up
 9 watching television, at about 2:30 or so he went to
10 bed -- he fell asleep watching television and woke
11 up, turned off the TV, went to bed about 2:30,
12 heard his father yelling his name, got up, ran
13 downstairs, saw a small fire next to his mother on
14 the sofa. He grabbed a pot in the kitchen,
15 splashed some water on there, didn't do any good,
16 told them to get out. They proceeded through the
17 kitchen towards the rear porch door, he dialed 911
18 from the phone there on the wall in the kitchen
19 while they were going out. He didn't follow them
20 but ran out the front door, threw some clothes on
21 that he had in a gym bag in his car, went around to
22 the back, didn't see his parents, went into the
23 back porch, found his mother there, was in the
24 process of trying to drag his mother out and the
25 police arrived.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   Now, is it your understanding from what he
 3 told you that he was up sleeping and he was
 4 awakened by his father?
 5    A.   Yes, sir.
 6    Q.   And that was about 4:30 a.m.?
 7    A.   Yes, sir.
 8    Q.   That he came down and he saw the two of
 9 them in that family room?
10    A.   Yes, sir.
11    Q.   To your understanding, there wasn't a whole
12 lot of smoke at that point. True?
13    A.   True.
14    Q.   What he did see was a --
15    A.   What he described to me as being a small
16 fire on the sofa.
17    Q.   And whatever the size of this small fire,
18 at that point it was not generating a lot of
19 smoke. Correct?
20    A.   Yes, sir.
21    Q.   And are you aware of the fact that he went
22 to get some water while his mother was on the
23 coach? Is that right? )
24    A.   Yes.
25    Q.   And his father was in that what they call

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 the lift chair?
 3    A.   The lift chair, right.
 4    Q.   And is it your understanding that the
 5 mother was attempting to bat out the flame with her
 6 left hand?
 7    A.   Yes.
 8    Q.   Now, you investigated quite a number of
 9 fires you already told us.
10    A.   Yes.
11    Q.   And one of the things that would be part of
12 your investigation are the circumstances of the
13 actors at the time of the fire, if you happened to
14 be fortunate enough to be able to talk to some of
15 the actors.
16    A.   Right.
17    Q.   As a trained investigator, did you think it
18 was unusual that Paul Camiolo left his mother
19 seated on a burning coach and left his father down
20 there as well and went to the kitchen to get
21 water? Do you think that was unusual at all?
22    A.   When you say "went to the kitchen," the act
23 of going to the kitchen is merely turning around
24 and together two steps. He probably simultaneously
25 told his folks to get out of there.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2                I mean, we would all do things at
 3 different sequences and rates of speed, depending
 4 on our training.
 5    Q.   I was just asking you whether you thought
 6 it was unusual as someone who investigated the fire
 7 that Paul's first thought, apparently, was to try
 8 to get water rather than moving his mother out of
 9 harm's way.
10    A.   Unusual but not -- not particularly unusual
11 for someone not knowledgeable of fires. It's
12 totally out of the context for somebody that's
13 trained with fires.
14    Q.   I take it when Paul told you what happened
15 and as to how the fire happened, you believed him.
16    A.   That I did, sir.
17    Q.   And you were hired by Mr. Cometa; is that
18 right?
19    A.   Yes, sir.
20    Q.   But did you understand that Mr. Cometa
21 worked for Paul Camiolo?
22    A.   Right.
23    Q.   So did you take it that you were actually
24 hired by Paul Camiolo with respect to this
25 investigation?

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.    Yes, sir.
 3    Q.    And would it be fair to say that when Paul
 4 Camiolo, you know, rendered his version of events
 5 to you, you did not question the truthfulness of
 6 what he told you? Is that correct?
 7    A.    Well, I went back over it with him to try
 8 to get the sequence of events, so that I could have
 9 it clear in my mind what transpired.
10    Q.    But you accepted what he told you as true,
11 correct?
12    A.    Yeah. In light of any other information at
13 that time, sure, based on his demeanor and, you
14 know, comments and actions.
15    Q.    And the actions that he told you about as
16 to what he did on the night of the fire, I take it
17 that did not cause you to doubt his version of
18 events; is that accurate?
19    A.    That's correct, yes.
20                You get an entirely different picture
21 of Paul as you meet him and talk with him than you
22 do reading his prior reports.
23    Q.    His like deposition?
24    A.    Yes.
25    Q.    And his statements to the various

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 investigators?
 3    A.   Right.
 4    Q.   What is it -- can you tell me, can you
 5 explain what you said. What is it that's different
 6 about him in person that you found contrasted with
 7 these reports of his?
 8    A.   Well, when you read the report, you -- it
 9 just appears to be very disjointed, illogical. And
10 yet when you meet him in person, you find that this
11 is the way that he -- he says things that he feels
12 rather than -- you know, most people would stop to
13 think about stuff. And he just is different and it
14 -- I mean, I believe the man.
15    Q.   These comments that you just made about
16 Paul, did you draw them all from your first meeting
17 with him or have there been numerous conversations
18 and meetings?
19    A.   I think I've met with him probably four
20 times but over the period, and I felt by the end of
21 the second day that, you know, I was pretty sure he
22 hadn't done it. I believed him.
23    Q.   And nothing's ever happened to cause you to
24 not believe him; is that right?
25    A.   That's correct.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.   How long did you spend investigating the
 3 fire scene?
 4    A.   I'd say I was there about six hours on the
 5 14th of February and returned on the 18th. I was
 6 probably there about three hours on the 18th, three
 7 or four hours on the 18th.
 8    Q.   Did you spend any more hours at the fire
 9 scene?
10    A.   No, that was it.
11    Q.   In terms of other things that you did in
12 your investigation, what other things did you do
13 other than interviewing Paul and going to the fire
14 scene?
15    A.   I went to the fire scene, took my samples,
16 did the photographs, prepared the drawings,
17 delivered the samples to the laboratory. I talked
18 to Paul, to his aunt, to the Fire Marshal.
19    Q.   Sullivan?
20    A.   Sullivan.
21    Q.   Which aunt, by the way, of Paul's, McCarty?
22    A.   Mary McCarty, yes.
23               Talked to Detective Tidwell, talked
24 to Bob Klein, confirmed with Jason Freed, the
25 chemist, talked to Alex Sutherland, talked to

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 Avato, talked to Mr. Cometa, attempted to interview
 3 the firemen, talked to some floor people, looked at
 4 some Berkoliners, talked to the Berkoliner folks,
 5 did some research on the Internet cigarette fires,
 6 furniture fires, talked to a chemist.
 7    Q.    Other than Mr. Freed?
 8    A.    Yes.
 9    Q.    Is that that gentleman whose resume you had
10 or somebody different?
11    A.    No somebody different.
12                And talked to another private
13 investigator.
14                Of course, kicked it around with my
15 partner, Mr. Neff. That's about it off the top of
16 my head.
17    Q.    All right. As far as your conversations
18 with Tidwell, Klein, Alex Sutherland, are they
19 pretty much reported in your report?
20    A.    Yes.
21    Q.    Mary McCarty, what did she tell you?
22    A.    Just Paul was a good fellow, a devoted son,
23 hard worker, and that they polished the wood
24 paneling there in the family room about once a
25 year.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.    What did they use, do you know?
 3    A.    Some sort of furniture oil.
 4    Q.    Did that have any significance, do you
 5 think, in the fire?
 6    A.    Not particularly. That paneling burns fast
 7 enough as it is.
 8    Q.    You said you tried to talked to the
 9 firemen?
10    A.    Yes.
11    Q.    But what?
12    A.    They had been advised not to talk to anyone
13 without the permission of the Fire Marshal, who has
14 been away and, in fact, supposedly returned today.
15    Q.    The fact that you had spoken with Avato,
16 and he also was a fire fighter, did you think you
17 were countermanding what the Fire Marshal had said
18 when you had your interview with Avato in April
19 '97?
20    A.    No, I wasn't aware of it at that time. And
21 I don't know as a restriction had been placed on
22 him at that time.
23    Q.    You said you spoke with some floor people.
24 Could you explain?
25    A.    Yes.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2                But before we go into that, to back
 3 up, what did Mary say and Paul's statements --
 4    Q.   Yes, sir.
 5    A.   -- what did Paul tell me, and it was all
 6 reported here, I thought it was, but as I look back
 7 through here, I don't see any reference to the
 8 paraffin bath, and I would like to bring that out.
 9    Q.   What you're saying is there's nothing in
10 your report about the paraffin bath?
11    A.   Yes.
12    Q.   But I take it you have something you want
13 to say about the paraffin bath.
14    A.   Yes.
15    Q.   I want to ask you about that. But while
16 we're clear here, you mentioned you spoke to some
17 floor people.
18    A.   Right.
19    Q.   Is that mentioned in your report?
20    A.   No, sir.
21    Q.   Is that something that happened after your
22 report?
23    A.   Yes, sir. Well, actually, before and
24 after, but --
25    Q.   You mentioned -- I'm sorry.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Before and after my report.
 3    Q.   You mentioned that you also looked at
 4 Berkoliners and spoke to the Berkoliner people?
 5    A.   Right.
 6    Q.   Is that something you did after your
 7 report?
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   You said you did some research on the
10 Internet? Was that also done after your report?
11    A.   Yes, sir.
12    Q.   And you talked to this other chemists,
13 other than Jason Freed and the other gentleman?
14    A.   Yes, sir.
15    Q.   That's after your report?
16    A.   Yes, sir.
17    Q.   And that seems to be most of it.
18                Getting back to the paraffin bath,
19 why wasn't that included in your report?
20    A.   I didn't feel that it was significant to
21 the cause and origin at that time.
22    Q.   Do you now?
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   What happened to cause you to change your
25 mind about the significance of the paraffin bath?

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   The burn patterns on the floor, the
 3 allegations of the heavy petroleum distillate.
 4    Q.   The allegations by the State Police Lab?
 5    A.   Yes. Not allegations, the reporting of the
 6 heavy petroleum distillates.
 7    Q.   You have seen the lab reports from the
 8 Pennsylvania State Police Lab; is that correct?
 9    A.   Yes, I have.
10    Q.   Is it accurate to say that you, Ronald
11 Decker, do not dispute those findings? Is that
12 accurate?
13    A.   Yes, sir.
14    Q.   You accept them.
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   And in light of those findings, you now are
17 revisiting the paraffin wax; is that correct?
18    A.   I think that's accurate to say, yes.
19    Q.   And would you tell me --
20    A.   I mean, I want to bring it out so that
21 everyone is aware of it and make it a matter of
22 record that it's there.
23    Q.   Good, go ahead.
24    A.   There was -- across from the sofa was a
25 small table containing a paraffin bath appliance, I

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 guess you would call it, next to the love seat.
 3     Q.  None of these particular diagrams or charts
 4 are perfect, but let me use one that I happened to
 5 make extra copies of today.
 6               Take a look at this one here, because
 7 I'll mark it if it's acceptable to you, and then,
 8 perhaps, I'll have you mark the paraffin bath on
 9 it.
10               Does that particular exhibit show
11 roughly accurately the furniture in the family
12 room?
13     A.  Yes, sir.
14     Q.  Why don't we mark it, and I understand the
15 scale is not --
16     A.  As I understand it. I mean, you know,
17 again there was no furniture in there when I got
18 there.
19     Q.  I understand.
20               (Decker-3 marked for identification.)
22     Q.  Sir, Decker-3, is this the chart that you
23 and I are looking at?
24     A.  Okay.
25     Q.  Just to get our bearings straight, in terms

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 of directions what would you call the fireplace?
 3    A.    The fireplace would be on what I would
 4 consider to be the south wall.
 5    Q.    I'm just going to write south in red up by
 6 the fireplace. Okay?
 7    A.    Okay.
 8    Q.    And then down at the bottom I'll put
 9 north --
10    A.    Okay.
11    Q.    -- which means that the air conditioner
12 window would be east?
13                Oh, I'm sorry.
14    A.    I would hope it would be west.
15    Q.    I'm absolutely terrible at this. I was a
16 rotten boy scout. You're right. That's west.
17                And then the couch where Mrs. Camiolo
18 supposedly was would be east.
19    A.    Would be east.
20    Q.    Okay. What we'll do is we'll work with
21 this and we'll make this part of the exhibit and
22 you'll know what it is.
23    A.    Okay.
24    Q.    You were talking about the paraffin wax
25 bath.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Right.
 3    Q.   And, I guess, why don't you draw a circle
 4 where this was and you can write paraffin wax or
 5 something. Use my red pen. It just makes it
 6 easier to find things. I don't mean to be
 7 difficult here.
 8    A.   Sure. I was told that this table from some
 9 videotapes was located more up here.
10    Q.   Oh, okay. I think Paul might have said
11 that in his deposition to be honest with you.
12    A.   With the paraffin bath being on that edge.
13    Q.   Could you -- what I would do, maybe, is --
14 why don't you draw an X through the videotape
15 table.
16    A.   Or just an arrow to move it up there?
17    Q.   All right. That's fine.
18                And what you've drawn is a red square
19 for the --
20    A.   A red square for the table with a circle
21 for the paraffin.
22    Q.   And what you said is, according to Mr.
23 Camiolo, that red square which depicts a table was
24 actually closer to the love seat.
25    A.   Right. And closer to that front corner,

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 yes.
 3    Q.   And then the paraffin bath thing apparently
 4 sat on the table.
 5    A.   Sat on the table.
 6    Q.   Well, I'd probably asked Paul sometime over
 7 the next month or so; but since you're here right
 8 now and you've got -- could you describe-- because
 9 he mentioned that at his statement, I probably
10 didn't get as much detail about it as I wished I
11 did in retrospect, what is this paraffin wax bath
12 thing and how much paraffin wax is in it, et
13 cetera, et cetera, to the extent that you know?
14    A.   Well, to make it simple, it's very much
15 like a crock pot. Okay? It has electrical heat
16 applied to the bottom. It contains probably about
17 a quart of paraffin, about two pounds there. They
18 come with a two-pound tub that's supposed to be a
19 load for it.
20               And the routine is, as was explained
21 to me, is that you turn it on, the paraffin melts,
22 it's a low heat, it's soft, you can put your hand
23 in there and the heat draws out the arthritis.
24               It's paraffin wax. And like I say,
25 there's -- there are two-pound tubs that are

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 supplied with it, and I do not have the brand name
 3 of the implement.
 4    Q.   Now, this crock pot device was on that
 5 table; is that right?
 6    A.   Yes.
 7    Q.   I take it there was some paraffin wax in
 8 the crock pot.
 9    A.   It was supposed to have been full.
10    Q.   Now, was there any other paraffin wax, to
11 your knowledge, elsewhere in that room?
12    A.   No.
13    Q.   When you purchase it, is it in a box, did
14 you say, like --
15    A.   It's in a tub.
16    Q.   Like margarine or something like that?
17    A.   Right.
18    Q.   Okay. Now, you had raised this topic
19 because I think you were going to say it had some
20 significance to either the burn patterns or the
21 fire here.
22    A.   Yes.
23    Q.   Could you explain.
24    A.   Right. Paraffin wax, I believe, is a
25 petroleum product and it does -- when it melts, it

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 burns. When it burns, it's a liquid. You know,
 3 it's a vapor when it burns, if you want to get
 4 technical, but, I mean, it has to be melted first.
 5 And it flows like any other liquid, and it leaves
 6 burn patterns on the floor.
 7    Q.   Is that what you believe happened in this
 8 case?
 9    A.   Yes, sir.
10    Q.   Do you believe that there are any burn
11 patterns in this family room that were caused by
12 the paraffin wax melting and burning?
13    A.   There very well could be out there in the
14 center of that floor, yes, sir.
15    Q.   Where do you believe that there is a burn
16 pattern consistent with the paraffin wax.
17               And maybe what I'll do is I'll give
18 you this Decker-3 again, and I'll give you my red
19 pen and maybe you could indicate everywhere in the
20 family room where you think there is a burn pattern
21 that could be attributable to the melted paraffin
22 wax.
23               Use my red again, only because red
24 shows up better.
25    A.   It's my recollection that we have a burn

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 pattern up along the floor, kind of like so
 3 (indicating).
 4               MR. McMONIGLE: All right. Would you
 5 just write in the word "pattern" in there.
 6               And if the record would reflect on
 7 Exhibit 3, Mr. Decker has kindly drawn a rough
 8 amoeba-like diagram and he's written the word
 9 "pattern" in there.
11    Q.   And that, sir, would generally, not
12 specifically I understand, that would generally
13 represent where you recall there being a burn
14 pattern. Right?
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   Is there a reason that you can think of why
17 that burn pattern would be in the center of the
18 floor and not in closer proximity to the love seat
19 or the cable where the paraffin was?
20    A.   The only explanation would be that that
21 table as it fell over and the paraffin came off --
22 the paraffin bath came off and the paraffin dropped
23 on the floor there and melted and ran towards the
24 fireplace.
25    Q.   Do you have any idea what the slope of that

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 particular room was?
 3    A.    No, sir.
 4    Q.    In order to run toward the fireplace, would
 5 you need a slope?
 6    A.    It's not going to run uphill.
 7                Yes, sir. I mean, that's part of
 8 the, you know, logical explanation of everything
 9 that has to happen.
10    Q.    So as far as you're concerned, for this
11 pattern to have been formed the way you think it
12 might have been, there would have to be some slope,
13 however slight, toward the fireplace of that floor;
14 is that right?
15    A.    Yes, sir.
16    Q.    Now, you have drawn on this picture, Decker
17 Exhibit 3, a rough approximation of a burn pattern;
18 is that correct?
19    A.    Yes.
20    Q.    But I take it that if you went to the scene
21 itself, the real scene, with your eyes you were
22 able to see a burn pattern on the floor; is that
23 correct?
24    A.    Yes, sir.
25    Q.    Now this is just a drawing.

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   Yeah. Right.
 3    Q.   But there are pictures of the burn pattern;
 4 is that right?
 5    A.   Right.
 6    Q.   And you observed the burn pattern with your
 7 two eyes, correct?
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   Did you consider that burn pattern
10 significant when you saw it?
11    A.   Not particularly, no, sir. And I indicated
12 that in my report.
13    Q.   That it was insignificant.
14    A.   Yes, sir.
15    Q.   Which means when you said that that burn
16 pattern was insignificant in your report, you
17 didn't think it had any significance to the cause
18 or origin of the fire; is that right?
19    A.   That's correct, sir.
20    Q.   Or its spread.
21    A.   Or its spread, yes, sir.
22    Q.   Are you revising that portion of your
23 report?
24    A.   No. My report will be -- I'm happy with
25 the way that my report is as far as the cause and

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 origin is concerned.
 3               But I do believe that we can explain
 4 that burn pattern with the paraffin bath.
 5               It leaves a pattern that is very
 6 similar to any other liquid pour pattern, an
 7 accelerant pour pattern. I don't know how else to
 8 phrase that.
 9    Q.   And just so we're clear -- and if you want
10 to turn to page 3 of your report, I think I see
11 what you're referring to.
12               Up at the like top of page 3 you
13 wrote, "Burn patterns observed on the floor did not
14 appear to be significant in nature."
15    A.   Yes, sir.
16    Q.   Have I read that correctly?
17    A.   Right, sir.
18    Q.   What you are saying when you wrote this is
19 that there were burn patterns which you observed on
20 the floor; is that right?
21    A.   Yes, sir.
22    Q.   And that's part of what you drew on Decker
23 Exhibit 3, correct?
24    A.   That is correct, sir, yes.
25    Q.   Although they were visible to you when you

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 wrote your report, you didn't think there was any
 3 significance of that pattern to the cause and
 4 origin of the fire; is that right?
 5    A.   As to the causation of the fire, yes, sir.
 6    Q.   And as to its spread, you didn't think that
 7 that burn pattern had any significance as to the
 8 spread, is that right, at the time you wrote the
 9 report?
10    A.   At the time I wrote the report, right.
11    Q.   Now what you're saying is you think that
12 you can now explain that burn pattern; is that
13 right?
14    A.   Yes, sir.
15    Q.   And I take it you would agree that that
16 burn pattern at least looks like a pour pattern.
17 Is that correct?
18    A.   Yes, sir.
19    Q.   So maybe if someone had considered the
20 paraffin wax bath that you're talking about, a
21 person might conclude that an accelerant was used
22 to start this fire.
23    A.   Yes, sir.
24    Q.   Because when accelerants are used,
25 sometimes there will be a pour pattern; is that

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 right?
 3    A.    That's correct, sir.
 4    Q.    Now, you believe after some consideration
 5 of what Paul told you and the fact that you learned
 6 them, you now believe you can explain what appears
 7 to be a pour pattern on the floor; is that right?
 8    A.    Yes, but let me back up.
 9                When you have a accelerant pour
10 pattern on a floor and you have an accelerant
11 poured on the floor, accelerants generate
12 tremendous amounts of heat, high flames. And where
13 you have the pour pattern on the floor, you should
14 have a corresponding area of damage to the
15 ceiling.
16                In this case the only damage to the
17 sealing in nature is over here on the north end of
18 the coach. The ceiling is -- there's no ceiling
19 damage that you would expect to have from a
20 gasoline pour in the center of that room.
21    Q.    And so what you're saying is about where
22 you have drawn this pattern on Decker Exhibit 3,
23 you would have expected there to be corresponding
24 burn up on the ceiling above that pattern?
25    A.    Yes, I would expect some serious damage

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 along that line somewheres.
 3    Q.   And you didn't find that.
 4    A.   And I didn't find that.
 5    Q.   You're saying that where you saw damage
 6 would have been on the north end of the coach that
 7 Mrs. Camiolo was supposedly sitting on.
 8    A.   That's correct, sir.
 9    Q.   Did you ever have a theory that suggested
10 that the burn pattern in the middle of the floor
11 was attributable to the wear and tear on the
12 carpet?
13    A.   That could also create that type of -- to
14 some degree that type of pattern.
15    Q.   And, again, you're referring to the pattern
16 you've drawn on Decker Exhibit 3; is that right?
17    A.   Right.
18    Q.   Just so we're totally clear here --
19    A.   Actually, it's not the wear pattern, but
20 it's the damage to the carpet and padding and the
21 resulting combustion of that padding as it melts
22 that gives you that pattern.
23    Q.   Creates an irregular pattern.
24    A.   Right.
25    Q.   So what you're saying is that is an

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 alternative explanation for this mark on the floor?
 3    A.   No. No. No. That's another way that they
 4 can be caused.
 5    Q.   My question to you is did you ever think
 6 that the pattern on the floor of the Camiolo
 7 residence was caused by this wear and tear on the
 8 carpet and pad in connection with the heat and the
 9 burning that happened? Was that every one of your
10 explanations for this burn pattern?
11    A.   No.
12    Q.   You believe the explanation for the burn
13 pattern is the paraffin wax.
14    A.   Yes, sir.
15    Q.   And all I'm trying to get at, because I
16 know sometimes as people learn things they change
17 their theory, I thought you might have told me
18 that, well, I originally thought it was the wear
19 and tear, but I changed my mind and I now think
20 it's paraffin. That's not what you're saying --
21    A.   No.
22    Q.   -- correct?
23                So would it be fair to say that
24 originally you had absolutely no explanation for
25 this pattern on the floor of the recreation room?

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   I considered the wear and tear on the
 3 carpet because I'm aware that that happened.
 4                My opinion wasn't formed until I did
 5 my report and considered everything.
 6    Q.   Well, at page 3 you said, "Burn patterns
 7 observed on the floor did not appear to be
 8 significant in nature." Correct?
 9    A.   Correct.
10    Q.   Which means you knew there were patterns --
11    A.   I knew there were patterns on the floor.
12    Q.   -- but you didn't think they were
13 significant to your -- you didn't think they were
14 important.
15    A.   Right.
16    Q.   Which means you had no explanation for that
17 pattern at the time you wrote your report.
18    A.   No. It means I didn't consider it to be
19 significant.
20    Q.   You were aware, were you not, that the
21 other investigators thought it was significant?
22 Right?
23    A.   Yes.
24    Q.   I mean, you knew that the State Police --
25    A.   Yes.

 1                     RONALD DECKER
 2    Q.    -- and some of the other folks thought that
 3 might be a gasoline or kerosene pour; is that
 4 right?
 5    A.    Right.
 6    Q.    So you knew it was significant to them,
 7 correct?
 8    A.    Yes, sir.
 9    Q.    But would it be fair to say that when you
10 wrote your report, you had no idea what had caused
11 that burn pattern?
12    A.    No, I don't think that would be fair to
13 say.
14    Q.    Did you think it was the wear and tear that
15 had caused the burn pattern when you had first
16 conducted your investigation?
17    A.    I considered the wear and tear, I
18 considered the paraffin, and I eliminated the
19 significance of the burn pattern because I didn't
20 have the corresponding damage that I would have to
21 have with the ceiling to have the pour.
22                 And the other item that really got me
23 with the pour is that I took my control sample over
24 here behind the lift chair --
25    Q.    Yes, sir.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2    A.   -- and there was no burning over here
 3 behind the lift chair, and that sample came back
 4 positive for gasoline.
 5               Now, there's no way in the world that
 6 we can pour gasoline on the floor here --
 7    Q.   Indicating where the pattern is --
 8    A.   -- where the pattern is --
 9    Q.   -- on Decker-3?
10    A.   -- not damage the ceiling above that, have
11 this tremendous inferno in this room, burn all this
12 other furniture and not ignite this gasoline that
13 was over here behind the chair. That cannot
14 happen.
15    Q.   In any event, when you did your report,
16 though, you didn't mention the paraffin wax being
17 responsible for this pattern; is that right?
18    A.   That is correct. I did not mention the
19 paraffin wax.
20    Q.   Was there a particular reason why you
21 didn't mention the paraffin wax?
22    A.   Because it was not involved in the cause
23 and origin of the fire.
24    Q.   And are you saying you also considered this
25 wear and tear aspect, but you also did not mention

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 that in your report?
 3    A.   Yes, sir.
 4    Q.   Now, have you pretty much decided that the
 5 wear and tear is not responsible for this pattern
 6 in the middle of the floor?
 7    A.   No. The wear and tear could contribute to
 8 the angle of the floor.
 9    Q.   Okay.
10    A.   To allow you to have the flow. It doesn't
11 have anything to do with cause and origin of the
12 fire is what I'm -- is simply what I'm trying to
13 say.
14    Q.   Now, just so we're clear when you're
15 talking about when you have this pattern, let me
16 show you paragraph 76, which was taken by the early
17 investigators, the police or the Fire Marshal.
18               MR. COMETA: For the record, I think
19 they were the photos taken on September 30th by the
20 Fire Marshal and Mr. Avato.
21               MR. McMONIGLE: Yes. There's a whole
22 series of them that are numbered in a certain way
23 and then there's a series of unnumbered ones, all
24 of which have been here, and I'm just trying to
25 keep track. This one happens to be marked 76.

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 3    Q.   But if you take a look at that, sir, it
 4 shows the floor looking up to the fireplace.
 5               Does that show the burn pattern or
 6 part of the burn pattern that you've depicted on
 7 Decker Exhibit 3?
 8    A.   Yes, sir.
 9    Q.   Let me show you photograph 1-3, which is
10 looking at the east wall.
11    A.   Okay.
12    Q.   And it's roughly in the vicinity, I think
13 Mr. Cometa might agree, of about where the couch
14 was, because we have another picture of this with
15 Mr. Avato taking up the floorboards.
16               Does that photo 1-3 also show this
17 burn pattern that you've described?
18    A.   Yes, sir, it does.
19    Q.   By the way, the paraffin on the floor, what
20 chemical test result would that leave? You know,
21 what would be found by the chemists if they were
22 pulling up the floor after the fire?
23    A.   I'm not sure, sir.
24    Q.   I'm just saying would it show gasoline,
25 would it show petroleum distillate, medium

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 petroleum distillate, heavy petroleum distillate?
 3 What's your understanding?
 4    A.   My understanding is it should show a heavy
 5 petroleum distillate.
 6    Q.   It's your understanding that's some of what
 7 was found from the floor samples, heavy petroleum
 8 distillate?
 9    A.   That's possible.
10               Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir, that is
11 heavy petroleum distillate.
12    Q.   Let me ask you this: You've drawn this
13 pattern in the rough center of the floor.
14               Do you know whether there was
15 anything that looked like a pour pattern over by
16 what is marked the end table on the north side of
17 the sofa or over in the area where the kitchen and
18 hallway intersected with the room? Do you know
19 whether there was any evidence of a burn pattern on
20 the floor in that vicinity?
21    A.   No, sir, I do not.
22    Q.   Did you take a photograph of the pattern,
23 the burn pattern, that you've shown on Decker-3?
24    A.   Yes, sir.
25               MR. McMONIGLE: Off the record for a

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 second.
 3               (Discussion held off the record.)
 5    Q.   In your report, I can show you photos 9 and
 6 10. Do they show any of this burn pattern? And
 7 I'll also show you photo 13 and 14 of your report,
 8 and I'm just picking these at random.
 9    A.   Yes, sir.
10    Q.   Which one, sir?
11    A.   Well, we seem to have them on both 9 and
12 10. Out here in the lower left corner we have a
13 bit out into there (indicating).
14    Q.   You would say photo 9. I would probably
15 say that that's the lower right corner of the
16 photo.
17    A.   I'm sorry, yes. Excuse me. Military
18 right.
19    Q.   And on photo 10 where is it?
20    A.   On photo 10 we have it somewhat back in
21 here (indicating).
22    Q.   You're indicating sort of a vertical line
23 running --
24    A.   On a vertical diagonal from the edge of the
25 fireplace coming back up here appears to be -- it's

 1                   RONALD DECKER
 2 not very well defined there. Is there another one
 3 that gives it more definition?
 4    Q.   Not in the report that I see, and I'll be
 5 happy to --
 6               MR. COMETA: Ron, why don't you look
 7 at the pictures that are attached to your report.
 8               THE WITNESS: Okay.
 9               Now this is the best that we can do,
10 the lower right-hand corner of 14 --
12    Q.   Right about where the date is, 2/14/97.
13    A.   Right about where the date is, 2/14/97, and
14 then on the photos 9 and 10 in the area on a
15 diagonal from this corner (indicating).
16               MR. COMETA: Now, what about the
17 other photographs that you brought with you today,
18 do any of your other photos show this issue?
19               THE WITNESS: This gives you a little
20 -- somewhat of a close-up where I took a sample
21 out of the floorboards there.
23    Q.   This is photograph 18 it looks like, and
24 it's got a picture of your note pad and a tape
25 measure; is that right?

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2    A.    Yes, sir.
 3    Q.    And you're saying that shows part of this
 4 burn pattern?
 5    A.    Yes, sir.
 6    Q.    Could you just point it out to me here?
 7 The record won't reflect it but just so I can sort
 8 of see.
 9    A.    We're running in line with here, where you
10 have this -- some of the wooden boards.
11    Q.    Now, just so I'm clear, you did notice this
12 burn pattern when you first saw it.
13    A.    Yes, sir.
14    Q.    And you said it did resemble a pour
15 pattern.
16    A.    Yes, sir.
17    Q.    Why did you conclude that that was
18 insignificant? Given the fact that you had what is
19 an obvious burn pattern and it looks like a pour
20 pattern, why would you as a cause and origin
21 investigator conclude that to be insignificant?
22    A.    Because if we did have a pour there, if
23 there was an actual pour there, you would have the
24 damage to the ceiling.
25                It's not logical. We should have the

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 two, got to have the two.
 3    Q.    What was the ceiling made of in this
 4 recreation room or family room? Was it sheet rock
 5 or --
 6    A.    Sheet rock, yeah, and now -- there was
 7 sheet rock over the floor joists, you know, of the
 8 second floor.
 9    Q.    Now, with sheet rock, there would have been
10 some fire resistance; isn't that right?
11    A.    Yes, sir.
12    Q.    That's the way sheet rock is designed,
13 correct?
14    A.    Yeah. Oh, yeah.
15    Q.    When you saw the ceiling, was most of the
16 sheet rock taken down already?
17    A.    Yes, sir, the sheet rock was gone, was
18 gone.
19    Q.    So, therefore, you did not know what that
20 sheet rock looked like right after the fire.
21 Correct?
22    A.    Correct.
23    Q.    In fact, you don't even know how much sheet
24 rock was left in the various parts of that ceiling
25 right after the fire was suppressed; is that

 1                     RONALD DECKER
 2 correct?
 3    A.    That's correct.
 4                 But I do know that over the left end
 5 of the couch, it had penetrated the sheet rock and,
 6 you know, attacked the structural members in the
 7 floor above it.
 8    Q.    And you can see that because that wood's
 9 all darker up over the couch.
10    A.    Right.
11    Q.    But you would have expected that couch to
12 burn longer than the middle of the floor because
13 there's a greater fuel load over where the couch
14 was, correct?
15    A.    Longer burning fuel load, yes, sir.
16    Q.    Plus the paneling itself would also have
17 heated up over by the ceiling; is that correct?
18    A.    That's correct.
19    Q.    But in the middle of the floor, once there
20 was an accelerant used, once that burned, it would
21 be gone, the fuel load would be essentially gone?
22    A.    That's right.
23    Q.    If there was accelerant, that would burn,
24 the carpet would burn, the padding would burn and
25 then that would be most of the fuel load would be

 1                    RONALD DECKER
 2 gone.   Correct?
 3    A.    Right.


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Jun Wang Jun Wang Dr
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