U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Development of a Sampling System to Stabilize Ignitable Liquid Residues in Fire Debris

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2013
46 pages
This study examined two approaches for avoiding microbial degradation of ignitable liquid residues in soil collected in fire debris in the course of fire investigations: the inhibition or elimination of the microbes naturally present in soil, and the use of a sampling container that can immediately partition ignitable liquid residues from fire debris.
Regarding the effort to inhibit or eliminate the microbes naturally present in soil, researchers successfully developed a practical and effective preservative that can be used by investigators in the field to stabilize fire debris evidence. This solution consists of the anti-microbial agent triclosan, which is non-volatile and could be safely used by investigators. The effectiveness of triclosan was evaluated using microbiological techniques and the testing of realistic soil samples with ASTM methods. Ignitable liquid residues were preserved for up to 30 days. The researchers anticipate that this anti-microbial solution will produce increased sample integrity and an improved ability to identify an ignitable liquid in a fire debris sample that contains soil. The second approach used in preventing the degradation of ignitable liquid residues embedded in soil lacked improved recovery compared to traditional methods. This approach used a container with an activated charcoal strip that is isolated from the fire debris, thereby adapting a passive adsorption method that can immediately begin to extract ignitable liquid residues from fire debris collected at a fire scene. 15 figures, 50 references, and a listing of publications and venues in which these research results have been disseminated

Date Published: May 1, 2013