The ‘continuing mantra’ of the fire investigator is to maintain an open mind and not show any kind of bias. Also, not to draw any conclusions until the investigation has been completed. During an investigation, evidence of a fire, its origin cause and development may be found and could point to other crimes or offences. Whilst, it would not be the fire investigator’s role to collect this evidence, it is very important that nothing found, is contaminated or destroyed. Fire destroys some evidence but also creates evidence as it develops.


The common mantras for fire scene examiners are to maintain an open mind, avoid introducing bias and to not draw conclusions until the investigation is completed and all hypotheses have been tested. Jack Deans has been at the forefront of numerous GATR fire/crime related research projects, since our first bespoke fire investigation training and research facility was built in 1999/2000. To date Jack has carried out and/or supervised over fifty research projects involving our furnished compartment fires interiors, contents and areas surrounding our Phoenix Heights fire compartments.

Finger marks recovered from a fire scene.

Fingerprints & Fire


In his main field of expertise Jack has proven without doubt that in protected areas, fingermarks can be identified and successfully retrieved from fire damaged scenes and contents which have been exposed to the most extreme temperatures such as ‘Flashover’. Such items include weapons e.g. knives, guns, cartridge shells and baseball bats, plus fragile items such as Molotov cocktail bottles, newspapers, magazines, books, matchboxes and a variety of other items from which ridge detail can be retrieved.


Jack has proved that approaching a fire scene with a methodical and positive attitude can result in the retrieval of fragile delicate physical evidence such as (1) A fingermark on a spent shot gun cartridge, found embedded in an item of soft furnishing, in a room which has gone to flashover following the liberal use of ignitable liquid (2) A fingermark on a box of matches which was found in the bottom of a small plastic bin which was in the area of fire origin.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) Test Samples that have been in a compartment subjected to fire where temperatures have reached between 200 and 950 degrees C have shown full and partial profiles.


Blood & Saliva Bottles used as petrol bombs, and milk bottles as well as various other substrates have yielded results.


Data Recovery From Mobile phones and Computer hard drives subjected to fires has proven possible.


Petrol Branding Determined that the actual brand of petrol could be established from post fire debris in some instances.


Electrical Arcing Research has been carried out to assist in the determination of a fire’s origin.


Double Wicking of Tea Lights which increases the temperature and flame height being given off by the candle and subsequent ignition of nearby articles.


Fire Suppression systems have also been the subject of research.


Crime Lights have been used to show the ability of the identification of footwear patterns post fire.

Gardiner Associates have undertaken over 50 research projects and continue during each set of burns to probe further into the forensic issues that are associated with fires. The Projects have included the search seizure and visualization of Finger marks from fire damaged rooms, Retrieval of data from Hard drives and telephones following fire involvement and the recovery of DNA from fire scenes.

If you wish to carry out research in our purpose-built fire enclosures, which are fully electrically energised, please contact us.

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GATR Phoenix Heights Fire & Research

Sculpins Lane,
Essex, United Kingdom