A shipping container fitted out to recreate the scene of a bedsit was ignited near to Talbot Campus by a professional fire investigator, before being extinguished ahead of student investigation exercises.
Final year BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation, BSc (Hons) Forensic Science, BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology and BSc (Hons) Archaeology and Forensic Sciences students were invited to observe the initial fire event before beginning their research into the pre-prepared causes of the fire. Among objects of interest within the scene were a toaster, television, electric sockets and extension units, as well as evidence of possible drug or alcohol use.
Students also met and experienced the use of specialist accelerant detection sniffer dog Jack, whose nasal detection skills are said to be more than a thousand times more effective than those of humans.
BU BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation course leader, Richard Paul said: “All of the final year students on our forensic degree programmes receive training in fire investigation. Professional fire investigators from JC Fire and specialists from Key Forensics deliver lectures and practical training, culminating in a large fire demonstration and workshop.
“Our students observe a live demonstration where a fire is set in a large container, mocked up to simulate a bedroom, complete with fixtures and fittings. Students observe how the fire spreads and later investigate the scene under the tuition and guidance of our professional fire investigators. This experience allows the students to draw upon all of the skill and knowledge they have acquired here with us during their study, and apply it to a fascinating example of forensic practice.”
Professional Fire Investigator and exercise leader Jon Caulton of JCFire, said: “Students have found the exercise really interesting and they’ve engaged with it. This exercise is about a dedicated fire, which students won’t get anywhere else, which is a unique thing. Students can see a fire as it starts, develops and is extinguished. They can they reexamine the scene and see the devastation and damage caused. We can then demonstrate signs, symptoms and directional burns, and we can then tell where the fire started because fire always leaves evidence. We get them to read the fire scene so that they know what to look for and get an idea of how the fire started.
“This is a live fire situation, with the structure built of the same materials that you would find in a house, which is involved in a situation that could happen in any room or bedsit. This is also an important lesson to see what could happen should a fire start, a small fire can become something devastating and fatal. Students can smell, see and hear the scene.”
Forensics students at BU also experience a range of other situations investigating reconstructed war crime excavations, and blood splatter analysis and scenes of crime investigation in dedicated reconstruction rooms on campus.
To read more about BSc (Hons) Forensic Investigation, click here.