Fire Scene Evidence Collection Guide

Ignitable Liquid Residue & Fire Debris


Detailed Procedure:

Cardboard is typically very absorbent and therefore can make a very productive sampling area for ignitable liquids.

To collect cardboard for ignitable liquid residue testing:

  1. Photograph the cardboard in place.

  2. Wear new, unused, clean latex or nitrile gloves.

  3. Because the cardboard may contain ignitable liquid residue, it must be collected in an airtight container. If not confined in an airtight container, the ignitable liquid vapors may evaporate. Therefore, place the cardboard inside a new, unused, metal paint can of sufficient size. To collect the cardboard, use gloved hands and/or new, unused or properly cleaned tools (such as a trowel or shovel) to lift the debris into a new, unused, metal paint can or nylon fire debris bag. Leave 1/3 headspace in the can for vapors.

  4. Clean the lip of the can using a properly cleaned screwdriver or other suitable tool.

  5. Tightly close the container, being careful not to dent the can.

  6. Seal the container with evidence tape. Initial and date the tape.

  7. Label the container with identifying information, including case number, date, exhibit number, a brief description including recovery location, and your name.

  8. Store the item(s) in a secure location, such as a locked evidence van or your vehicle, until you are able to transport it to the laboratory.

Laboratory examination of cardboard for ignitable liquids:

Cardboard can be tested for ignitable liquids using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. This test can determine the classification of the ignitable liquid.


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