finger printIn 1993, Mark Spawn was an Investigator with the Fulton, New York Police Department. He conducted research at the New York State Academy of Fire Science on the effects of fire on fingerprints. Spawn was an evidence technician and fingerprint examiner at the time and noticed that the attention given to fingerprints at a homicide, robbery or grand larceny scene was not the same when it came to the fire scene. With arson being one of the nation’s most expensive crimes, he sought to determine whether fingerprints could survive a fire. Funded by Factory Mutual Insurance Company and supported by the Fire Academy and City of Fulton, Spawn conducted tests under real life fire conditions at the burn building at the Fire Academy. The findings indicated that fingerprints can indeed survive even the most aggressive fires. Spawn published a research paper on his findings which have been published in various professional journals nationally and internationally. He has collaborated with the Fire Academy in the development of a Fire Scene Evidence Course which includes a module on fingerprints at the fire scene. Spawn is a Level II Fire Investigator and a State Fire Instructor.

Click here for research paper.