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Saint Anselm College Hosts 38th Annual New England Arson Seminar

May 23, 2016

Chip Underhill
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7326 (Desk)
cunderhill@anselm.edu

Firefighters watch a controlled burn during the arson seminar
On May 23-27, Saint Anselm College will host the 38th annual New England Arson Seminar. The event, which will feature presentations by several Saint Anselm professors, is also aided by a recent graduate and supported by several current Saint Anselm students.

Brianna Capistran '16 (left) watches a test burnAccording to Brianna Capistran '16 (at left in photo), a forensic science major who graduated from Saint Anselm on Saturday at the college's 123rd commencement, a portion of this year's seminar consists of hands-on stations in which the participating fire investigators will take part in demonstrations that involve common arson scenarios. Capistran says her advisors, Dr. Nicole Eyet, associate professor of chemistry and Dr. William Ryerson, professor of biology, will incorporate her research into multiple stations of the seminar.

"We'll be demonstrating the effects of accelerants on various flooring substrates and the effects of accelerant surface area on burn rates," says Capistran. "It'll be great for the fire investigators to see because they'll be able to understand the 'why' behind the damage they see at a fire scene. They'll see first-hand how changing certain variables can affect how fast a fire spreads or how much damage it'll cause, and they can then apply this knowledge to scenes they see on a daily basis."

Capistran says the idea for her research came from a project conducted for the chemistry department's Research & Seminar class, during her just-completed senior year, in which she investigated carpet flammability under various accelerant conditions (for example, volume, ignition, and position). "My research advisors and I were intrigued at the effects of changing one small variable," she says. "Our data showed certain trends corresponding to certain variables, so we wanted to do a continuation of the study, to see if the trends remained constant on a larger scale. It was a fascinating project!"

Also scheduled as presenters and speakers at the seminar are college president Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo; Thomas Hammond, Professor Emeritus, department of criminal justice; and Professor Paul Finn of the Psychology Department.

Guest speakers at the New England Arson Seminar include Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator from New Hampshire; Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge, Boston Field Division - Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Joseph Foster, Attorney General, State of New Hampshire; and multiple experts in fire and crime investigation from several northeastern states.

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