Government of Ontario

CFS - Technical Information Sheets - Chemistry - Fire Debris Packaging Guide

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Technical Information Sheets

Chemistry - Fire Debris Packaging Guide

Fire Debris Packaging Guide – PDF, 44 kb

Type of Sample ***Required*** Recommended
Fire Debris
Security-sealed Mason jar
1 litre mason jar
Use Glass Mason jars with metal cap and ring, except for larger items and liquid samples (see below).
If alcohols, solvents or lacquer thinners are suspected, it is recommended that only glass Mason jars are used.
  • Leave air space for sampling (approx. ¾ full)
  • Ensure the mouth of jar is clean of debris, and that the metal ring and lid are tightly-sealed
  • Apply numbered, tamper-proof security seal to jar
  • Place protective netting over jar
  • Seal jar in a nylon bag if the item has a noticeable petroleum odour
  • Submit an empty jar for comparison purposes
Large Items
(Any items that cannot fit into a 1L Mason jar)
Swan neck seal
“Swan neck” seal
Use only specialty nylon bags.
Garbage bags, paper bags, Ziploc bags, & standard police evidence bags are not suitable for retaining volatile ignitable liquid vapours. Items packaged in these types of bags will not be accepted for analysis.
If alcohols, solvents or lacquer thinners are suspected, it is recommended that only glass Mason jars are used.
  • Leave air space in bag to allow for sampling
  • Seal the bag using one of the following methods:
    1. "Swan neck" seal: twist neck of bag, fold over and secure with cable-tie or tape. Seal the opening of nylon bag with duct tape.
    2. Fold the opening of the bag over on itself at least three times and seal with duct tape.
  • Double-bag the item if it is heavy, very wet, has sharp edges or has a strong petroleum odour
  • Nylon bags should not be sealed with adhesive tape that has printed lettering (e.g. "OFM" tape)
  • Items in bags should be small enough to fit into a conventional microwave
Liquids Liquids must be received upright with no visible signs of leakage. Ensure that lids are closed tightly.
  • Use Glass vials (20mL) with a foil lined lid
  • Ship liquid items separately from other items
  • If a Mason jar must be used to package a liquid, submit no more than 50mL (~1/4 cup), and seal the jar in a nylon bag to prevent leakage
Soil / Vegetation / Food Refrigerate as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of bacterial action.
Lung and Biological Tissue Use only glass Mason jars with a metal cap and ring.
  • Jars must not be more than ¾ full
  • All lung submissions must have an analysis request for either volatile ignitable liquids and/or hydrocarbon gases (such as natural gas and propane)
  • Submit an empty jar for comparison purposes
Clothing from Suspects Suspect clothing should be packaged within 24 hours of the occurrence in glass Mason jars or specialty nylon bags.
If clothing was packaged after 24 hours, contact a fire debris analyst to discuss suitability for examination.
  • Items associated with a suspect (such as clothing) should be stored and shipped in separate boxes from items recovered at the scene (including any items associated with a victim)

Comparison Samples:

Whenever possible, an unburnt/unused comparison sample of debris (e.g. unburnt carpet sample, wood, etc.), or of a substrate used to collect a liquid (e.g. a paper towel wipe), should also be submitted for analysis. This will help to account for contributions made to the analytical results by the debris and substrate materials.

Packaging - Supplier Information

Mason Jars

Any retail kitchen or hardware store (1L size recommended).
Please Note: prior to use, jars should be cleaned by rinsing with hot water (no soap) and placed upside down to dry away from potential sources of ignitable liquid vapour. Clean jars should be stored with their lids on until they are used

Specialty Nylon Bags

Grand River Products
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, U.S.A.

Crime Sciences Inc.
Fonthill, ON
1-905-892-1800  or  1-866-803-5133

Item Code: LP-05115

Standard size Grand River bags are 12” x 18”.
Specialty nylon bags tend to be crinkly and thicker than typical plastic bags.

Glass vials

Fisher Scientific, Ottawa, ON
Kimble 20mL glass scintillation vials with foil-lined lids; Product #: 03-337-5
Note: Other types of glass vials may be used provided that they have foil-lined lid inserts.

Protective netting

Cole-Parmer, Montreal, PQ
Poly-Net  2” to 4” diameter; Catalog #: OF-09405-30

CFS Fire Debris Analysis Group Contacts

Aleksandra Stryjnik, Section Head, Chemistry - 647-329-1405
Liam MacManus, Assistant Section Head, Chemistry - 647 329-1516
Dalia Bagby - 647 329-1506
Craig Bryant - 647 329-1507
Mike Harrison - 647 329-1512
Robert Hong-You - 647 329-1513
Stuart Sagara - 647 329-1520

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