University takes forensic approach to fires with new posts

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Edinburgh University is hoping two new appointments will help get to the bottom of the causes of building fires.

The new posts will enhance teaching in areas of fire safety engineering and fire investigation – such as how fires start and spread within buildings – which, in combination with forensic training, could help fire investigators analyse a scene in the aftermath of a blaze more accurately.

Dr Jim Lygate of IFIC Forensics joins the School of Engineering as Rushbrook Visiting Professor of Fire Investigation.

He is joined by Dr Rory Hadden, who takes up the post of Rushbrook Lecturer in Fire Investigation.

Dr Lygate said: “The regulation of forensic science and the Law Commission’s report on the admissibility of expert evidence require that fire investigators base their findings in fire science that takes account of the latest research.

“The university is uniquely placed to train fire investigators in the science and practice of fire investigation that meets the needs of the criminal justice system and insurance industry worldwide.” Both appointments are named after Dr Frank Rushbrook, a former firemaster with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Services, who was pivotal in creating the Department of Fire Safety Engineering at the university in 1973. Dr Hadden’s appointment has been made possible by a £200,000 gift from Dr Rushbrook.

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