ATF Fire Investigative Tools

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provides many unique assets along with its expertise in the field of fire investigation. In 2006, ATF investigated more than 1,700 fires worldwide. The resources and experience ATF brings to fire investigation include:

Certified Fire Investigators

ATF's cadre of more than 90 special agent certified fire investigators (CFI) are specially trained criminal investigators who are primary technical resources to state and local investigators and prosecutors in the area of fire origin and cause determination. CFIs undergo an intensive 2-year training program that gives them the knowledge, skills and expertise in the field of forensic fire science, reconstruction and analysis. CFIs bring great credibility in the testimony as expert witnesses in the area of fire origin and cause determination. Once certified, they must receive mandatory continuing education.

National Response Team

ATF developed the National Response Team (NRT) in 1978 to assist federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges of significant fire and explosives incidents. Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has been activated 640 times. The NRT is organized by region and can respond within 24 hours to assist with an investigation. ATF deploys its NRT and International Response Team (IRT) to explosives and fire incidents throughout the country and around the world.

The NRT works alongside state and local investigators to reconstruct the scene and identify the seat of the blast or origin of the fire; they also conduct interviews and sift through debris to collect evidence. Each NRT is composed of veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists; certified fire investigators; forensic mappers and schematic artists; accelerant and explosives detection canines; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; and forensic chemists.

The NRT is supported by a fleet of fully-equipped response vehicles that are strategically located throughout the United States allowing the NRT to be self-contained for the forensic examination of explosives and fire scenes.

Accelerant Detection Canines

ATF is a premier source of specially trained accelerant detection canines. The canines are assigned to local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies, as well as selected foreign countries, lending support to investigations and security efforts. In 1984, ATF developed an accelerant detection canine pilot program resulting in the creation of an accelerant detection system that gives immediate advantage over field instruments. There are approximately 90 certified accelerant detection canines located throughout the country.

National Laboratory Center

ATF's National Laboratory Center, located in suburban Maryland, is home to the Forensic Science Laboratory, the Fire Research Laboratory and its administrative office for Laboratory Services.

The Forensic Science Laboratory evaluates evidence obtained in criminal investigations involving alcohol, tobacco, firearms, explosives and suspected arson. Examination of fire debris evidence for the recovery and characterization of any ignitable liquid residues can provide valuable information to an investigator. The laboratory's work was critical to the arrest and conviction of the serial arsonist in the Washington, D.C. area responsible for setting more than 40 fires in 2005.

ATF's Fire Research Laboratory (FRL) is the first facility of its kind in the world dedicated to supporting fire scene investigations. The FRL has the ability to simulate full-scale fire scenes to determine how fires begin and spread. Using the laboratory's unique facilities, the staff applies sophisticated instrumentation to perform forensic fire science and engineering analyses. The fire tests and analyses conducted help investigators to better understand fire timelines, assess witness statements and correlate fire scene damage present at the time of the fire.

The FRL facility gives fire scientists, engineers, researchers and investigators a controlled environment in which to test fire investigation theories and to evaluate potential fire causes.

Bomb Arson Tracking System

The Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS) is a Web-based arson and explosives intelligence and information sharing database maintained by ATF. BATS ensures that crucial, time-sensitive information about explosives and arson incidents reaches first responders. BATS allows federal, state and local law enforcement agencies secure Internet access to a system that collects and disseminates incident-based information in real time. End users can enter their agency's incidents and query information across agencies and produce relevant reports.

SOURCE Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives