What Is The Use Of Forensic Chemistry In Fire Debris Analysis?

1364 Words 6 Pages
Fire is mainly employed at a crime scene to either cover up the existence of another crime, as a method of revenge, retaliation, to collect insurance or simply utilized at the delight of the individual who set it. Unfortunately, fire is not so easily controlled in a civilized setting and can be catastrophic in effect. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires set intentionally cause hundreds of deaths and injuries annually, as well as billions in property damage. In the year 2000, over 4000 Americans lost their lives in a fire (1). However, the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, only reports that less than a quarter of culprits responsible are arrested. This is due to the fact that it is incredibly difficult to …show more content…
This method can help to determine if a suspected case could be considered arson or accidental, simply by chemical analysis of specific target compounds left behind. Using controlled burns, specific characteristics of each product commonly associated with ignitable liquid residues were identified. When free of interfering compounds that may skew the results, the characterized products can be matched to real forensic cases in order to prove that a particular case involved a natural, accidental, or incendiary …show more content…
Each exemplary item of debris was burned under varying levels of temperature and oxygen availability. 21 evidentiary substrates utilized for comparison are frequently found in household items and materials with ILR, the rest without. All products selected for examination were collected locally and analyzed before and after burning using the ASTM method (1). After the initial before-burning analysis was completed, each sample was placed into a new sterilized unlined paint can containing the ACS probe in the headspace, sealed, and heated in an oven at 80 degrees Celsius for 12-16 hours (1). Volatile compounds were extracted from the ACS, and the samples underwent Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS). Then, Almirall and Fulton administered controlled pyrolysis burning in order to provide a classification standard of what pyrolysis products can be expected at a crime scene under certain conditions. This was achieved by placing a small piece of the sample into a pyrolyzer without air and pyrolyzed for 25 seconds at 800 degrees Celsius. After pyrolysis, the samples were placed into new individual paint cans, ignited, and left to burn for two minutes in the controlled setting. To simulate the extinguishing of an actual fire, the burning substrates were extinguished either by spraying the material with 10 milliliters of

Related Documents