Demystifying the Chain of Custody & Forensic Arson Analysis

Dr. Court Sandau will provide a lesson on Chain of Custody and Forensic Arson Analysis at the 2017 IAAI International Training Conference

Dr. Court Sandau will provide a lesson on Chain of Custody and Forensic Arson Analysis at the 68th International Association of Arson Investigators’ (IAAI) International Training Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Court’s lesson will take place from 8:00am – 12:00pm on the final day of the conference (Friday, April 14, 2016).

The audience will include top fire investigators, attorneys, scientists and representatives from state and federal agencies.


Abstract of Lesson

Legal Chain of Custody

The results for ignitable liquid residue (ILR) analysis depend on decisions made before the investigator leaves for the arson investigation site. The impact of early decisions continues until samples are submitted to the laboratory.

Legal chain of custody not only involves the documentation of samples and sampling procedures. It also includes the preventative actions taken by investigators as the custodian of the samples in order to prevent cross contamination.  The legal sampling and legal chain of custody process will be discussed along with implications of the process on the analytical results.

ILR Analysis

Upon being submitted to the laboratory, samples are processed to determine if ILRs are present and what type of ILRs are on the samples.

There are different methods for analysis of ILRs. These methods will be discussed along with other requirements for the chemical analysis.

Samples & Sampling

Sampling plays a major role in the investigation since the sampling at the investigation site provides the best opportunity to optimize the detection of ILRs. Court will discuss several points on how to accomplish the best samples.

Lastly, Court will cover the topic of reference samples which are sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘control samples’. Reference samples are key samples to any arson investigation and must be collected with purpose for every investigation.


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