Blaze: The Forensics of Fire

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9780312979782: Blaze: The Forensics of Fire

Focusing on the most destructive fires of modern times, Nicholas Faith details the work of these investigators as they piece together causes of ignition, observe how fire spreads and smoke flows, and attempt to understand the behavior of those unlucky souls caught in the most fearsome infernos. Their work can convict arsonists or form the bases of legislation-making buildings safer for all of us.

Including information about the cataclysmic conflagrations at the MGM Grand and Our Lady of the Angels School, Blaze features first hand testimonies from people whose lives have been scarred by their encounters with fire. Nicholas Faith examines the fire-fighters who risk their lives tackling the blazes, and the investigators, safety engineers, and forensic scientists who scour gutted rubble heaps in the hope of understanding mankind's most complicated ally-and its most dangerous foe.

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About the Author:

Nicholas Faith is a journalist and a writer for British television. He has written on topics as diverse as cognac, Bordeaux, Swiss banks, trains, trucks, ships, disasters, and forensic science. He has served as Industrial Editor of the Sunday Times and Assistant Editor of The Economist. He lives in London.

From Publishers Weekly:

Rockmaster Three may have sung "The roof is on fire," but it's no party to be in a burning buildingAand no picnic to find out how fires started or to catch those who set them. London-based journalist Faith (Black Box; Mayday) has made a specialty of disaster-detectives: his taut new volume chronicles fire investigators, the professionals who determine the probable cause and course of a dangerous fire after it has been put out. Faith devotes a chapter to a 1985 casino fire in Puerto Rico, in which modern materials scientists collaborated with old-fashioned cops: present-day fire investigation, Faith explains, dates from that event. Another chapter treats other conflagrations, in the London Underground and in Dublin's Stardust disco. Faith examines the origins of and flaws in fire codes, and the surprising causes of several blazes. He devotes several chapters to arson and arsonistsAincluding to Seattle's still-mysterious late-'80s blazes set with rocket fuel and to a Philadelphia tire fire near I-95, set by a ring of teenage serial arsonists. A series of California blazes turned out, disturbingly, to be the work of a professional fire investigator, who actually wroteAand sent to a publisherAa "fact-based" novel detailing his crimes. Finally, Faith examines evacuations: how might planners understand what people do when inside a building on fire, and how might designers help them escape? Faith has picked an intrinsically riveting topic, one that combines police work, physics, design and the social sciences. Half John McPhee, half Law & Order, his book is very hard to put down. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Nicholas Faith
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