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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 63210 Find in a Library
Title: LABORATORY CAN HELP INVESTIGATOR PLUCK ARSON EVIDENCE OUT OF DEBRIS
Journal: FIRE ENGINEERING  Volume:131  Issue:8  Dated:(AUGUST 1978)  Pages:48-50,52
Author(s): R N THAMAN
Corporate Author: Technical Publishing Co
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: Technical Publishing Co
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ARTICLE OUTLINES METHODS FIRE INVESTIGATORS CAN USE TO PROCURE ARSON SAMPLES OF FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS.
Abstract: FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS, OR ACCELERANTS, WHEN ANALYZED IN A LABORATORY CAN PROVIDE A WEALTH OF INFORMATION REGARDING THEIR USE IN A SUSPICIOUS FIRE. SOME FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS EVAPORATE IN THE FEW HOURS, WHILE OTHERS REMAIN IN FIRE DEBRIS FOR YEARS. A TABLE LISTS THE RELATIVE LENGTH OF TIME THAT A GIVEN FLAMMABLE LIQUID CAN BE DETECTED ON FIRE DEBRIS AND SHOWS THAT FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS SUCH AS FUEL OIL AND PAINT THINNERS ARE MORE EASILY DISCOVERED AT FIRE SCENES THAN SOLVENTS SUCH AS ETHER OR ACETONE. LABORATORY ANALYSIS OF FIRE DEBRIS SAMPLES RELIES ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT TRACES OF THE ORIGINAL FLAMMABLE LIQUID REMAIN IN THE GIVEN PIECE OF FIRE DEBRIS. GUIDELINES ARE GIVEN TO HELP THE FIRE INVESTIGATOR SECURE A SAMPLE WITH THE GREATEST PROBABILITY OF CONTAINING FLAMMABLE LIQUID RESIDUES. THE VALUES OF VARIOUS SAMPLES - SOIL, WOOD, CARPET, WATER, GLASS - ARE DISCUSSED AND WOOD, CARPET, AND WATER ARE STATED TO PROVIDE EXCELLENT SAMPLES. ARSONISTS CAN ALSO USE FLAMMABLE SOLIDS TO START A FIRE AND THESE ARE DISCUSSED. THE MOST COMMON INVESTIGATIVE AIDS TO DETECT THESE TYPES OF DEBRIS ARE ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHT; SNIFFERS; AND PORTABLE GAS CHROMATOGRAPHS. ALTHOUGH CRIME LABORATORIES ARE IMPROVING THEIR TECHNIQUES OF ANALYZING FIRE DEBRIS, THERE IS STILL A LACK OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN FORENSIC LABORATORIES, AND LABORATORY EQUIPMENT NEEDS MODERNIZING. HOWEVER, THE MODERN FORENSIC LABORATORY CAN USUALLY PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION FOR THE FIRE INVESTIGATOR: DETERMINE IF FLAMMABLE LIQUID IS PRESENT, ITS TYPE AND FRESHNESS; LIFT AND PROCESS LATENT FINGERPRINTS FROM FIRE BOMBS; IDENTIFY SUSPICIOUS RESIDUES FOUND AT SCENE OF FIRE. (MJW)
Index Term(s): Arson; Crime laboratories; Fire detection; Fire detection equipment; Fire emergency planning
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=63210

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