Fire and Explosions
Fire and Explosions
The Forensic Chemistry and Physics Laboratory (FCPL) plays a key role in investigating and prosecuting terrorist acts by identifying explosives, propellants, incendiary materials and their precursors and combustion products. These materials may be present in bulk quantities or at trace levels. Identification and comparison of components used in constructing improvised explosive devices such as wires, adhesive tapes, batteries, switches, packaging and containers may provide useful investigative leads on the origin and fabrication of the devices.
Industrial accidents involving chemicals, gases, fire and explosion require FCPL's expertise in order to pinpoint the cause, and contributions from system failure, safety violation, human error or criminal activity. On-site visits, discussions with investigators, chemical analysis, examination of damages and study of procedures and systems can reveal what transpired.
FCPL's scientists attend explosion scenes, advise on evidence collection and determine the cause of explosions. In the investigation of gas phase explosions, we:
- examine gas cylinders, valves and tubing for malfunction and leaks,
- analyse gas composition, and
- pinpoint the ignition source.
The Lab plays a crucial role in fire investigations by determining whether ignitable liquids were deliberately used to accelerate the spread of a fire. The Lab's advanced techniques can detect and unequivocally identify minute traces of ignitable liquid residues left at an arson scene or explosive and flammable gases in flash fires. Determining the flash-point of a combustible liquid and identification of pyrophoric materials can provide vital clues on ignition and start of a fire in industrial accidents.
Dangerous Air Cargo
Materials that pose a danger on international flights as a result of physical or chemical instability, reactivity, toxicity, flammability or explosive properties need to comply with strict requirements on packing, quantity and markings prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization in the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. To meet investigative needs, The FCPL Laboratory identifies products that are potentially hazardous when transported as air cargo.