Cover image for Blaze : the forensics of fire
Blaze : the forensics of fire
Faith, Nicholas, 1933-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Physical Description:
190 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TH9180 .F35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
TH9180 .F35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rockmaster Three may have sung "The roof is on fire," but it's no party to be in a burning buildingÄand 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 arsonistsÄincluding 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 wroteÄand sent to a publisherÄa "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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this new work, journalist and television writer Faith looks at fire and arson investigators as well as their investigations. Drawing on both research and a series of interviews he conducted, he chronicles how fires are investigated and examines such large fires as the one that consumed Las Vegas's MGM Grand Hotel in 1980, killing 84 people and injuring 679. Unfortunately, Faith's tendency to include lengthy quotations from interviews and other sources make this short work very difficult to read. It is extremely disjointed and could have used tighter editing. Worst of all, he has taken a topic of great possible interest and made it very dull reading. Recommended only where there is considerable interest in the topic.ÄWilfred Drew, SUNY at Morrisville Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.