3rd Edition

Scientific Protocols for Fire Investigation, Third Edition

By John J. Lentini Copyright 2019
    608 Pages 563 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    608 Pages 563 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

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    Scientific Protocols for Fire Investigation, Third Edition focuses on the practical application of fundamental scientific principles to determine the causes of fires. Originally published in 2006, the First Edition was very well received by fire investigators and those who work with them. Since fire investigation is a rapidly evolving field—driven by new discoveries about fire behavior—the Second Edition was published in late 2012.


    This latest, fully updated Third Edition reflects the most recent developments in the field. Currently, serious research is underway to try to understand the role of ventilation in structure fires. Likewise, there is improved understanding of the kinds of errors investigators can make that lead to incorrect determinations of the causes of fires.  In addition to the scientific aspects, the litigation of fire related events is rapidly changing, particularly with respect to an investigator's qualifications to serve as an expert witness.  This book covers these latest developments and ties together the changing standards for fire investigations with the fundamental scientific knowledge presented in the early chapters of the book.


    The book is intended for those individuals who have recently entered the field of fire investigation, and those who are studying fire investigation with a plan to become certified professionals. In addition, professionals in the insurance industry who hire fire investigators will find this an invaluable resource. Insurance companies have sustained significant losses by hiring individuals who are not qualified, resulting in cases being settled or lost at a cost of millions. Insurance adjusters and investigators will learn to recognize quality fire investigations and those that are not up to today's standards. Lastly, this book is also for the many attorneys who litigate fire cases.


    Written with language and terms that make the science accessible even to the non-scientist, this new edition will be a welcome resource to any professional involved in fire and arson cases.

    1. Fire and Science

    2. The Chemistry and Physics of Combustion

    3. Fire Dynamics and Fire Pattern Development

    4. Fire Investigation Procedures

    5. Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Residues

    6. Evaluation of Ignition Sources

    7. Some Practical Examples

    8. The Mythology of Arson Investigation

    9. Sources of Error in Fire Investigation

    10. The Professional Practice of Fire Investigation


    John Lentini has been at the center of most of the important developments in fire investigation for the past 35 years. He began his career at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in 1974. There he learned criminalistics in general and fire debris analysis in particular and received an introduction to fire scene investigation. He went into private practice in 1977 and spent the next 10 years examining 100 to 150 fire scenes per year, mostly for insurance companies that had doubts about the legitimacy of their insureds’ fire losses. He later migrated to the field of subrogation and product liability related to accidental fires.

    At the same time, he managed a fire debris analysis laboratory with a nationwide clientele. He has been at the center of the standardization of both laboratory and field investigations of fires. As Co-chair of the International Association of Arson Investigators’ (IAAI) Forensic Science Committee, he was the principal author of the first laboratory standards published by the IAAI in 1988. He oversaw the acceptance of those standards by ASTM Committee E30 on Forensic Sciences, where he served for two terms as Chairman of the Criminalistics Subcommittee and for three terms as main committee Chairman. When the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) was incorporated in 1993, he was the first civilian elected to the ABC Board of Directors. He served two terms on the board, was the principal organizer of the ABC Operations Manual, and served as the first editor of the ABC newsletter, Certification News. He was a coauthor of the first examination for the certification of fire debris analysts.

    He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and has served for many years in the leadership of the AAFS Criminalistics Section. Lentini has been a certified fire investigator since certification first became available in 1986, and was among the first group of individuals certified by the ABC as Fellows in fire debris analysis. He is one of the few individuals in the world who has held certifications for both laboratory and field work.