Fire debris contains many volatile flammable components. If an accelerant, such as gasoline, turpentine, or paint thinner, has been added to the naturally present combustible materials, it often may be detected and identified by modern chemical analysis techniques.
FIRE DEBRIS can be tested by the use of gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC/FID) and headspace sampling of volatile flammable materials. It also can be analyzed by gas chromatography with mass spectrometric (GC/MS or GC/MS/MS) detection of the same volatile flammable materials after concentration of the vapors with solid adsorbent. RML uses both methods routinely, depending upon client needs. RML uses all applicable ASTM protocols and Guidelines. For additional information regarding sample containers, sample collection, and chain of custody, please contact us.
GC/FID: This method is more sensitive to volatile flammables, but is less specific than is GC/MS. It also costs about half as much to perform. Normally, GC/FID is more than adequate for the detection and identification of hydrocarbon based flammable materials. However, it does not provide the assurance of identification of less-common compounds that GC/MS does.
GC/MS: This method uses the enormous discriminatory power of mass spectrometry to enhance the specificity of the fire debris analysis. That is, we are able to state, with even greater assurance, that a particular compound, and no other, is present in the fire debris. For example, we can identify pinene or other terpenoids from wood products, including turpentine, or styrene and analogs from polystyrene plastics.  It is important to recognize that, just because the can says "Gum Turpentine,"  that this does not mean that the contents have seen a pine forest in a few million years.
We also can examine fire debris for the presence of illegal drugs and other contraband which may be of concern in the legal outcome of a fire claim.  We are able to suggest professional fire investigators and engineers with whom we have worked and in whom we have confidence.   We provide many other services, such as Scanning Electron Microscopy with X-ray analysis (SEM/EDX) and HPLC/MS analysis of explosives residues.  Using Chromatoprobe (pyrolysis) and GC/MS, we can compare and identify spray paint samples from suspect "taggers."

RML provides clear data which can be presented to juries in an understandable manner. All GC/MS and HPLC/MS data are backed up both on magnetic media and on paper printouts to ensure permanently retrievable data. We also participate in external proficiency testing. This is important both to assure our clients that we adhere to nationally recognized standards, and to challenge ourselves to improve our laboratory technology.

As may be seen from our other web pages, we are professional chemists. We understand the need for the highest quality chemical analysis. It is our opinion that the best way for our clients to avoid litigation is for the collection and examination of the evidence to be of the highest quality possible. A low-priced laboratory or investigator may become very expensive.

Please contact us at: 970-266-8108   or    303-530-1169   (Denver Metro)

Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories
108 Coronado Ct.
Ft. Collins, CO 80525