Fire Debris Analysis, Ignitable Liquids, Summed Ion Method, Target Factor Analysis
Current fire debris analysis procedure involves using the chromatographic patterns of total ion chromatograms, extracted ion chromatograms, and target compound analysis to identify an ignitable liquid according to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E 1618 standard method. Classifying the ignitable liquid is accomplished by a visual comparison of chromatographic data obtained from any extracted ignitable liquid residue in the debris to the chromatograms of ignitable liquids in a database, i.e. by visual pattern recognition. Pattern recognition proves time consuming and introduces potential for human error. One particularly difficult aspect of fire debris analysis is recognizing an ignitable liquid residue when the intensity of its chromatographic pattern is extremely low or masked by pyrolysis products. In this research, a unique approach to fire debris analysis was applied by utilizing the samples' total ion spectrum (TIS) to identify an ignitable liquid, if present. The TIS, created by summing the intensity of each ion across all elution times in a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) dataset retains sufficient information content for the identification of complex mixtures . Computer assisted spectral comparison was then performed on the samples' TIS by target factor analysis (TFA). This approach allowed rapid automated searching against a library of ignitable liquid summed ion spectra. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves measured how well TFA identified ignitable liquids in the database that were of the same ASTM classification as the ignitable liquid in fire debris samples, as depicted in their corresponding area under the ROC curve. This study incorporated statistical analysis to aid in classification of an ignitable liquid, therefore alleviating interpretive error inherent in visual pattern recognition. This method could allow an analyst to declare an ignitable liquid present when utilization of visual pattern recognition alone is not sufficient.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
McHugh, Kelly, "Determining The Presence Of An Ignitable Liquid Residue In Fire Debris Samples Utilizing Target Factor Analysis" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4333.