How would you collect evidence of arson?

How would you collect evidence of arson?

Typically, arson evidence is gathered in airtight, clean metal cans. Large amounts of dry powder should only be gathered and kept in plastic bags. Evidence that is moist or wet (blood, plants, etc.) should not be collected in metal containers as this will cause corrosion which can mask the true color of certain chemicals used in arson.

The type of fuel used in a fire determines what kind of evidence you will find at the scene. For example, if gasoline is spilled on a floor, there will be traces of it under every chair and table. If diesel oil is spilled, it will soak into the ground and leave evidence that is hard to find otherwise. There are also important differences between fires caused by natural events and those started by people. Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes usually destroy or move around many items that could give clues about their origin. People's fires usually affect only one thing that can be traced back to its owner. Personal items such as clothes, books, and photographs often have tags attached which show who they belong to. Words or phrases written on pieces of paper found at the scene of the crime may help identify who started the fire.

What is the proper procedure for collecting suspected arson evidence?

Items that are liquid can be transported in non-breakable, leakproof containers. Evidence that is moist or wet (blood, plants, etc.) should not be moved from the scene until it has had time to dry out.

If possible, have a witness watch while you collect the evidence. This will help them understand what needs to be done with the evidence later. You may also want to take pictures of the scene before you begin collecting evidence so you don't miss anything important.

Arson investigators must use their judgment when deciding how to process evidence that may contain toxic chemicals. If in doubt, follow standard laboratory procedures. Arsonists often try to hide their activities by using toxic chemicals in items such as paint and thinner. An arson investigator should wear protective clothing and equipment when handling these substances.

The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Management Division has published guidelines for analyzing arson-related materials. These guidelines include procedures for: identifying evidence that may contain flammable liquids or gases; extracting samples for chemical analysis; and performing chemical tests on the sample extracts. The ASCLD/LMD recommends that laboratories consider using validated screening methods to identify potential ignitable liquids in forensic specimens. Further testing should be performed on any sample that shows signs of ignition resistance or combustion.

Why is arson evidence packaged in metal cans?

Moisture causes microbes to flourish, which can destroy or change evidence. Any goods that might cross-contaminate must be packed separately. For example, if blood was found on a towel in the victim's home, it would be bagged separately from other items found in the scene.

Arson investigators use chemical tests to identify the presence of fire accelerants on clothes, furniture, and other objects involved in the crime. The best way to prevent contamination of evidence is to keep all samples in their original packaging until they're opened in the laboratory.

If you're asked to open an evidence container during an investigation, first check with your supervisor before doing so. Only clear up as much property as necessary to conduct effective investigations - do not dispose of evidence.

About Article Author

Darren Barnette

Darren Barnette is a security officer for the government. He does his job well and takes pride in providing law and order to those who need it most.

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