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Forensic fire investigation: the underpinning fire science and investigative methodology

Event organised by Ingenieurs et Scientifique de France

29 January 2024

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The Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (IESF), British Section, annual inauguration lecture and dinner, is the most significant and popular event of the British Section’s year; this will be held at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

When unchecked, fire causes many fatalities, a greater number of serious injuries, and annual social and economic losses in the UK typically exceeding £10 billion. Dr Chris Foster, president elect, in his inaugural address will describe the stages in the growth of a fire from ignition to fully developed, and the way in which physical, chemical, and dimensional factors influence each stage in its development and spread beyond the compartment of origin. Ignition criteria will be defined in terms of the properties of the material first ignited and the characteristics of the ignition source.

He will use the Kings Cross Underground fire to illustrate the application of these principles to the investigation of large-scale disasters. Chris will describe the investigative methodology, referring to evidence found at scenes of accidental and deliberately started fires, and will review advances in both on-scene and laboratory analytical techniques.

Organised by

Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France British Section

Ingenieurs et Scientifiques de France British Section

The British Section of IESF, a French Learned Society with branches worldwide, is dedicated to linking Anglo-French engineering and science.


17:45 - 17:55

IESF British Section AGM in the Telford Theatre

17:55 - 18:10

Introduction by the past president, Lester Sonden

18:10 - 19:15

Lecture: Forensic fire investigation: the underpinning fire science and investigative methodology


Dr Christopher Foster

Dr Christopher Foster

Dr J H Burgoyne & Partners LLP


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Dr Christopher Foster

After completing his PhD on the spontaneous ignition of hydrocarbons in air, Chris joined consulting scientists and engineers Dr J H Burgoyne & Partners LLP.

Chris has over 50 years’ experience investigating the causes and effects of land based and marine fires and explosions, and chemical and petrochemical incidents, world-wide. Incidents that Chris investigated include the Flixborough disaster (1974), the Kings Cross Underground fire (1987), the fire in the Mont Blanc vehicle tunnel (1999) and the Buncefield explosion (2005).

Chris has frequently given expert evidence in court, he lectures at Edinburgh and Cranfield Universities, and has contributed a chapter entitled The investigation of gas phase explosions in buildings in the textbook The Forensic Investigation of Explosions.

For more information please contact:

Shelly-Ann Russell

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