Arson and Explosion Analysis

School Level Program Admissions
Anna Maria College Bachelor Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Website
Anna Maria College Master Master of Public Administration - Fire and Emergency Services Website
Eastern Oregon University Bachelor Bachelor in Fire Services Administration Website

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Fire and explosion investigation is not without its challenges, though. The following are just a few elements that make the job of an arson and explosion investigator more difficult:

  • The perpetrator has lots of time to plan and execute the crime, meaning s/he has generally left the scene long before investigators arrive.
  • The event itself destroys evidence.
  • Evidence such as kerosene and gasoline, if it survives, can often evaporate within hours.
  • The origin of the event may be obscured by debris from subsequent incidents, such as floors collapsing.

What Do You Do Working in Arson and Explosion Analysis?

To get the most possible information, it is important for the arson and explosion investigator to begin the investigation as quickly as possible. Fire accelerants and explosive powders often evaporate within hours or days of the event. Investigators perform the following tasks at the crime scene:

  • Locate the origin of the fire or explosion.
  • In the case of fire, look for devices and containers used to ignite and/or spread the fire.
  • In the case of explosion, look for detonating mechanism and use dogs or a vapor detector to find residue.
  • Look for accidental causes as well as evidence of foul play.
  • Make notes, draw sketches, and take photos of the evidence.
  • Pack evidence in airtight containers to prevent evaporation of residues.

When the evidence has been recovered from the crime scene, work begins in the lab to reconstruct the event that produced the destruction. Arson and explosion investigators analyze residues to get information about the accelerants or explosives involved in the crime . They often perform carefully planned control experiments to try to recreate the crime, especially when they need to test different hypotheses about the events.

The arson and explosion investigator must take detailed notes during every step of the process. These notes are used to write a full report about the analysis and its conclusions. If the evidence from the analysis is used in a case that goes to trial, the arson and explosion investigator may be required to testify in court about the work.
Arson and explosion investigation is an inspiring field of forensic science that will continue to provide exciting career opportunities well into the future.

School Level Program Admissions
Aurora University Bachelor BA in Criminal Justice Website
Point University Bachelor Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Website
Utica College Bachelor BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation Website
Utica College Master MS in Data Science Website
Alvernia University Bachelor Addictions and Mental Health Treatment (formerly Behavioral Health) Website