This article by Paul Bieber appeared in the 2013 CACJ publication. Bieber looks at the reliability of fire investigation and the validity of techniques including identification of the area or areas of origin.
Reports and Publications
This 1997 study by FEMA and the US Fire Administration found that ventilation and flashover may change or move patterns making correct interpretation of the pattern more difficult. Flashover was found in a majority of test fires and did obscure patterns including patterns from ignitable liquids.
2006 book by John Lentini on appropriate techniques for fire scene investigations and chemical analysis of fire debris. Highlights frequent errors in fire investigation, the history of fire investigation and how the profession has evolved.
2012 DOJ publication by Arnaud Trouve’ and Thomas Minnich. This publication explains the Burning Item Database which describes the burning characteristics of common household and office items.
2012 DOJ publication by James G. Quintiere, Justin T. Warden, Stephen M. Tamburello, and Thomas E. Minnich that addresses the principles of spontaneous ignition and its potential role as the cause and origin of a fire.
2012 DOJ publication by Marc L. Janssens that investigates how to estimate the burning rate of upholstered furniture and how to express the uncertainty of this prediction.
The National Fire Protection Association publishes this manual which is the standard of care in fire investigation. This guide can be viewed for free on the NFPA website which is an excellent way to become familiar with the standards; however, if you wish to download or print it, you must purchase a copy. Email Sarah Rackley Olson if …
2000 NIJ publication written and approved by the Technical Working Group on Fire/Arson Scene Investigation. Includes recommendations about preserving the scene, interviewing witnesses, documentation, and evidence processing.
This 2009 NIJ publication describes recommended practices for the collection and preservation of evidence at fire scenes. This guide may provide areas of cross examination in cases where the recommended policies were not followed.
See pp. 170-173 for the National Research Counsel’s assessment of the analysis of explosives evidence and fire debris
The American Association for the Advancement of Science produced this July 2017 report that assesses what aspects of fire investigation are well founded and science and where gaps exist in knowledge. The full report is available for free download. A “plain language” summary is also available for download.
2012 DOJ publication by Richard J. Roby, Ph.D. and Jamie McAllister, Ph.D. that looks at the physical characteristics of energized and non-energized wires subjected to various types of fire exposures.
NIST has created this document to explain why DNA mixture interpretation can be so complex and to explain how likelihood ratios and probabilistic genotyping software can assist with interpreting complex mixtures.
Standards and best practices for the collection, preservation, and testing of DNA evidence and for its use at trial, published in 2018.
Contains information about requirements for DRE certification and the DRE protocol for North Carolina.