Laboratory Examinations

table lamp showing arcing

Fire damaged appliance examinations include microscopic work such as this table lamp showing arcing


Fire damaged appliance examinations can be carried out at our laboratory or, if the item is large and integral to a structure, on site. Gas, electric and liquid fuel appliances are potential causes of a fire and can be examined for evidence of faults or misuse.

Most structures have an electricity supply and as such they can contain a large number of electrical appliances, certainly most households have an increasing number of appliances in them. It is necessary to exclude these appliances as potential causes of a fire in almost every case.

If an appliance has been damaged by a fire, it is possible for it to be examined and vital information can be gained from even the most severely damaged item.

synthetic fibres

Microscopic melting to synthetic fibres

“Flashburning” examination of clothing for heat damage

Garments and footwear can be examined visually and microscopically for the presence of heat damage caused by exposure to heat or flame. This is particularly useful if it is alleged that the wearer of the clothing was present at the ignition of a volatile flammable liquid. The type and distribution of the damage allows us to differentiate between several possible heat sources.

Photoionisation Detector

Photoionisaiton Detector in use

Screening for the presence of ignitable liquids

A photoionisation detector (PID) can be used in the laboratory and at scenes to screen items for the potential presence of an ignitable liquid. In the laboratory large numbers of items can be screened quickly and without compromising other evidence types to determine which items should be progressed for full analysis. At scenes the PID can help to determine which samples are more likely to hold ignitable liquids on them and so give a greater chance of identification of the residues in analysis.

Tealight Candles Burning through a TV Detector

Tealight Candles Burning through a TV

Burning tests

We have undertaken many experiments to determine whether or not certain materials are capable of being ignited, under what conditions they will burn, how they behave whilst burning and the post fire effects on the item. When appropriate a close approximation of the materials from a fire scene can be arranged and tests initiated to determine what ignition sources could have caused the fire, the length of time a certain scenario could take and to test any given hypothesis. Additionally if a small incendiary device is found but not activated we can replicate the device and determine what the effects could have been if it had operated. If these tests are required then we can design a suitable test, facilitate the organisation of the test procedure and carry out the tests.