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Photo Ionization Detectors (PID)s

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  • Photo Ionization Detectors (PID)s

    Posted for the fourth time...
    We have two PIDs assigned to us. Is this something that is used in our industry? I have used them at hazmat scenes but never seen them used at a fire scene investigation. Is there something special that would need to be done because of its admissibility in court? Would my findings even be admissible in court for that matter? I know I would need to bump test it before each use. I know it would need to be calibrated on a regular basis. I know a PID isn't chemical specific but I figure that is something the state lab could figure out. Everyone throw your $0.02 in. Any info about the subject will benefit me as long as people don't get in ****in' contests about it. Thanks boys.

  • #2
    Originally posted by somearsonguy View Post
    Posted for the fourth time...
    We have two PIDs assigned to us. Is this something that is used in our industry? I have used them at hazmat scenes but never seen them used at a fire scene investigation. Is there something special that would need to be done because of its admissibility in court? Would my findings even be admissible in court for that matter? I know I would need to bump test it before each use. I know it would need to be calibrated on a regular basis. I know a PID isn't chemical specific but I figure that is something the state lab could figure out. Everyone throw your $0.02 in. Any info about the subject will benefit me as long as people don't get in ****in' contests about it. Thanks boys.
    Yeah, the first five or six posts get reviewed by the firehouse staff so you don't see them until they get 'approved'. A pain in the neck, but it probably cuts down on the amount of spam here.

    I have not seen the PID insturments used, but the trade journals sometimes run an article on using them. I'll have to look at the back issues to see if I can find one that did.

    While not chemical specific, as long as you are backing up your findings with lab results from a gas chromatigraph to pinpoint what it is I would think you would not get into trouble. Just going off the PID, I would guess, would allow people to call into question the readings.

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    • #3
      It depends on the PID you are using. They are used to find VOC's. Many will detect not much. The trick is to know what the eV of the substances of accelerant's and to get a detector that can ionize them so you know they are present, you will also know everything else that is present but it will be a great idea to know you have something there in the ppm's and not something you can just smell. We also know that VOC's are anything with C H O N, and those 4 elements are usually there after a fire and especially if an accelerant is used.

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      • #4
        The PID findings alone would never be admissable in court in and of themselves. They would be considered no different than a K8 hit. NFPA 921 states clearly that a K9 alert cannot be considered a vaild indication of the presence of an accelerant w/o a confirmation of a positive finding by a forensic lab.

        There could be investigative value in the unit in determining the best area to take samples or to screen the samples prior to submission. But the PID is a tool and should only be used as a tool.
        PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
          The PID findings alone would never be admissable in court in and of themselves. They would be considered no different than a K8 hit. NFPA 921 states clearly that a K9 alert cannot be considered a vaild indication of the presence of an accelerant w/o a confirmation of a positive finding by a forensic lab.

          There could be investigative value in the unit in determining the best area to take samples or to screen the samples prior to submission. But the PID is a tool and should only be used as a tool.
          I think George has nailed this one down pretty good. PID alert would be viewed by the courts the same as a K9 alert. It provides you the investigator an indicator as to where to take your best sample for submission to the lab. PID is a tool same as a K9, your testimony in court would for the most part be the same. Personally I would always want to use a K-9 and not a PID. A K-9 is more sensitive to the presents of accelerants.
          sigpic
          When fire is cried and danger is neigh,
          "God and the firemen" is the people's cry;
          But when 'tis out and all things righted,
          God is forgotten and the firemen slighted.
          ~Author unknown, from The Fireman's Journal, 18 Oct 1879

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