Florida’s latest responder: An arson lab that travels

Florida’s latest responder: An arson lab that travels

A new mobile fire investigation laboratory will respond to the scene of any Florida fire that results in multiple deaths or a loss of $100,000 or more.

The van housing the lab accommodates the four-member team of Bureau of Fire and Arson Prevention investigators, which includes a chemist. Also on board is a variety of equipment:

  • A gas chromatograph for determining what flammable liquids are present in fire debris;
  • A photography and video center that includes a 35mm camera, a video camera, and six portable floodlights on movable stands;
  • A computer and printer that tie the van into the central database that’s part of the Florida Department of Insurance and Treasurer’s arson information system; and
  • Ladders, saws, shovels, hammers, wrenches, and other tools.

State Fire Marshal Bill Gunter says the $135,000 lab will help solve cases that in the past may have been classified as accidental or of undetermined cause. His office expects to use the unit for about 40 of the roughly 3,000 investigations it conducts per year.

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