Project FORCHAR is a new exciting project recently funded an ERC Proof of Concept Grant.

The wildFIRE Lab is working with project partners FIUK on Project FORCHAR

Fire Investigations are undertaken to determine the origin and cause of fires in housing or commercial properties, to identify whether there may be a need for criminal investigation, to provide information on financial loss and in the case of loss of life to design protocols to protect society. Charring is one of the most obvious products of fire and fire investigators have long attempted to utilise patterns of charring to determine fire origin and cause. However, these have often had to rely on qualitative descriptions of charring as there is no quantitative tool that allows them to measure the degree of charring of wood materials.

My ERC StG has developed a quantitative method that allows the amount of light reflected from charcoals to be measured toward estimating wildfire behaviour. It has revealed that increasing reflectivity of charcoals links to increased heating where it can be used to identify regions of a forest likely to suffer long-term ecological damage.

In FORCHAR we will adapt this approach and develop it into an essential tool for use in the fire investigator’s forensic toolkit.