The effects of fire suppression techniques on burned remains

Date

2011-05

Authors

Curtin, Briana K.

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Abstract

Fire, as a destructive force on soft and skeletal tissues, is used to cover-up criminal actions such as homicide. It is important to conduct actualistic experimentation to determine how fire modifies such tissues, as well as the observation and documentation of how the various additional taphonomic processes may alter human remains ( e.g., human interaction, fire suppression, insect damage). Just as each fire is unique, each fire fatality should also be viewed as unique. This study lends support to that claim by presenting how various factors present at a fire scene may affect modification and associated characteristics observed on burned remains. Results were obtained by experimentally burning four intact fleshed pig carcasses and treating each subject with a different fire suppression technique. Test one allow remains to naturally burn-out, with no method of fire suppression employed. Test two involved physical removal of the remains from the active fire event. Test three examined the effects of using pressurized water with foam admixture from a fire truck. Test four examined effects of using a hand-held compressed air/dry-chemical portable fire extinguisher. Results from this study will allow forensic anthropology practitioners to better discriminate between features caused by heat exposure and those caused by fire suppression techniques. In particular, this research will clarify the description and modification indicators that result from the two most common suppression techniques employed at modem fire scenes.

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Keywords

Archaeology, Human remains, Tissue analysis, Fire extinction, Forensic archaeology

Citation

Curtin, B. K. (2011). <i>The effects of fire suppression techniques on burned remains</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.

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