Annual arson demonstration at Keele

Investigating arson cases is one of the many possible roles of a Forensic Examiner. At Keele, Arson investigation is included in a final year module, and as part of this module we organise a visit annually from John Caulton, a professional fire investigator.

The demonstration shows how a fire can start in a living room, and how it can spread from an ash tray to the whole room. A ‘room’ is created inside a metal box, with typical furnishings, carpets and curtains, as shown in the photograph:

    Arson Demo  


Once the fire starts, it spreads very quickly, as the sequence of photos show:

    Arson Demo Arson Demo Arson Demo Arson Demo  


At this stage the whole room is burning, and the fire has to be extinguished by closing the doors of the box (to stop the flow of oxygen), and by dowsing the flames with water. What is left is the burned out remains of the room contents.

    Arson Demo Arson Demo  


At this stage it is safe for the forensic examination to commence. The examiners will be looking for traces of liquid accelerants that may have been used to start the fire, and sniffer dogs are used at this stage.                                                     

© Rob Jackson, February 2018

Third year arson practical

This video was taken during a 3rd year arson practical session that was delivered at Keele University as part of the BSc Forensic Science programme.

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