This study covers an extensive experimental design that was developed for creating simulated fire debris samples under controlled conditions for the detection and identification of ignitable liquids (IL) residues. This design included 19 different substrates, 45 substrate combinations with and without ignitable liquids, and 45 different ILs from three classes (i.e., white spirit, gasoline, and lamp oil). Chemical analysis was performed with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) for improved separation and compound identification. The enhanced peak capacity offered by GC×GC-TOFMS allowed the use of a target compound list in combination with a simple binary decision model to arrive at quite acceptable results with respect to IL detection (89% true positive and 7% false positive rate) and classification (100% correct white spirit, 79% correct gasoline, and 77% correct lamp oil assignment). Although these results were obtained in a limited set of laboratory controlled fire experiments including only three IL classes, this study confirms the conclusions of other studies that GC×GC-TOFMS can be a powerful tool in the challenging task of forensic fire debris analysis.
- Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography
- Fire debris analysis
- Forensic fire investigation
- Ignitable liquids
- Medium petroleum distillate
- Simulated fire debris samples