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Fire and Explosion Investigations and Forensic Analyses: Near- and Long-Term Needs Assessment for State and Local Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2008
370 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an analysis of the near-term and long-term needs in arson and explosion investigations and forensic analyses.
Based on a needs-assessment survey of relevant respondents in late September of 2007, five recommendations were developed. First, develop analytical and investigation products, equipment, and techniques. Second, improve communications, contacts, and cooperation. Third, enhance and standardize qualifications and training. Fourth, expand access to existing information on instrumentation and equipment. Fifth, promote consistency in terminology, methods, and techniques. Ways to implement these recommendations are offered. One proposal is to engage in technology transfer and the development of new instrumentation for field and laboratory detection and analysis of ignitable liquids and explosives. Another proposal is to create and expand databases relevant to fire debris and explosive analysis. Other suggestions are to pursue alternatives and improvement to fire debris extraction techniques; improve the recognition, sampling, and preservation of bombing evidence; improve basic instrumentation for under-funded laboratories; promote access to existing Federal databases and information on fire and explosives issues and materials; and enhance fire and explosion computer modeling. The report also recommends providing selected materials from the Ignitable Liquids Reference Collection (ILRC) for forensic laboratories, the pursuit of internal standards research, and the development of gasoline "taggants." In order to enhance and standardize qualifications and training, the report recommends near-term and long-term education and training of analysts and investigators, with attention to fire dynamics. Suggested ways of promoting consistency in terminology, methods, and techniques include the development of glossaries for fire and explosions, laboratory submission guidelines, resources and best practices in analysis and investigations, and canine use in postblast environments. The survey was posted on the Internet to members of relevant associated groups for August 2007 and the first week of September 2007. Extensive tables and figures and appended survey questionnaire

Date Published: January 1, 2008