Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Fire Forensics

PostedDecember 10, 2004

Download File (mp3)

An arsonist's M.O. can be reverse-engineered from a crime scene by piecing together clues found among the ashes.  Fire engineers say just traces of flammable liquid or any container found where the fires started are all that's needed to reveal distinct chemical fingerprints back at the lab.  Meanwhile computer models can test numerous ignition scenarios using details of the torched building's structure.  Virtual outcomes are compared to actual blazes.  Such information may give investigators clues about the people behind these crimes, and the scientific evidence necessary to make charges stick.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.




  • Fire loss reduction and homeland security research at the Building and Fire Research Lab, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • See different fire models from the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator
  • Read the latest on Fire Protection Engineering (PDF file, 71 KB)