Deon Webber served for almost 35 years as a professional Fire Officer with the Greater Manchester Fire Service from April 1975 to January 2010. During that time, he served as an operational firefighter and later Group Manager at some of the busiest Fire Stations, in one of the UK’s largest Fire and Rescue Services outside London.
During his service, he was involved with many high-profile incidents including the devastating fire at Woolworths Manchester (1979), the Summit Tunnel rail fire (1984), the Manchester Airport Disaster (1985), The Strangeways Riots (1990) and the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996
He undertook training as a specialist Fire Investigation officer in 1999 and in 2005 was tasked with carrying out a fundamental review of Fire Investigation within the organisation. This culminated in a recommendation for the formation of the County’s first ever, fully dedicated Fire Investigation Team, which he managed as a Group Manager until his retirement from the service.
He has been called upon to review the investigations of a number of other UK Fire and Rescue Services and in 2008 carried out a review of the investigation of a major fire at Atherstone Warwickshire, which claimed the lives of four firefighters. This review led to a series of recommendations to the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor and the Fire Minister for improvements in the investigation of major fires
As the head of Fire Investigation for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, he regularly delivered fire investigation training to Fire, Police and Prison Officers as well as Crime Scene Investigators and students of Forensic Science. He remains an Associate Tutor at the University of Central Lancashire, Manchester Metropolitan University where he regularly delivers lectures to students of fire and forensic science.
Deon was for a number of years a senior examiner and marker for the Institution of Fire Engineers International examinations and is currently the President of the UK Association of Fire Investigators. He has completed the Police National Investigative Interviewing Course and holds the BTEC Advanced Certificate in Investigative Practice. He has received further fire investigation training at the Fire Service College and Edinburgh University.
In 2008, he helped design and oversaw the production of a fire investigation video training programme for first responders, which was used by 20 Fire and Rescue Services in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and which has been adapted for use by firefighters in the USA by the International Association of Arson Investigators.
He has been employed as a technical advisor by a number of published crime authors as well as television drama’s, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, he appeared as an expert in the 2016 ITV documentary, “The Investigator: A British Crime Story” and his fire reconstruction of a hospital fire was used on the factual Channel 5 series ‘Caught on Camera’ in the Autumn of 2018.
Since leaving the Fire Service, Deon briefly worked as an independent fire consultant, carrying out and reporting on investigations in parts of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Islamabad Pakistan. Deon has represented IFIC Forensics in the North West of England from their offices in Piccadilly, Manchester since 2010 and holds the position of Training and Compliance Manager within the company.
Since joining IFIC Forensics, he has investigated fires in all parts of the UK and Republic of Ireland and has travelled to various parts of Europe and the Middle East to carry out fire investigations. He has considerable experience of fires in domestic, commercial and Industrial Buildings, particularly those involving arson. In addition, he has acted on behalf of a number of Fire and Rescue Services in the UK and Republic of Ireland as an expert witness on fire service procedures in civil litigation cases.