State of the Arc (Mapping)


  • David Icove, PhD, PE University of Tennessee
  • Thomas R. May



fire investigation, arc mapping, Daubert, fire origin, metallurgy, computed comography


NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations considers the technique arc mapping to be one of the methodologies used in isolating a fire’s origin and spread. Provided the technique is used properly and understanding its limitations, it is a tool for investigators. Synthesized here is the latest peer-reviewed research and discussions on the implications of increased use of ground- and arc-fault circuit interrupters on arc mapping analysis. Incorporated are case studies and evaluations of recent legal decisions. The goal is to arm investigators with what’s needed to maximize the arc mapping’s efficacy and best present its use and results.


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Carey, N.J. PhD thesis, 2009. Developing a reliable systematic analysis for arc fault mapping. Centre for Forensic Science - Pure & Applied Chemistry. 2009, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Carey, N., & Daeid, N.N. 2010. Arc mapping. Fire and Arson Investigator, 61(2), 34-37.

National Fire Protection Association. 2014. NFPA 1033, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator. National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.

Babrauskas, V. 2018. Arc Mapping: A Critcal Review, Fire Technology 54, 749-780 (2018).

West, L., & Reiter, D.A. 2005. Full-Scale Arc Mapping Tests, Fire & Materials Conference, San Francisco.

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Goodson, M.E.1999. GFIs and Fire Investigation, Fire & Arson investigator, January 1999.

Goodson, M.E. & Davis, K.R. 2016. Arc mapping in the advent f AFCI, GFCI and GFEP Circuit Protection Devices, ISFI Proceedings, ISFI 2016.

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Icove, D.J. & Haynes, G.A. 2018. Kirk’s Fire Investigation, 8th Edition. Pearson, New York, NY.

May, T.R & Icove, D.J. 2020. Arc Mapping Methodologies & the Pursuit of Magical Globules, Notches & Beads: A Bridge Too Far to Establish Fire Origin? Lincoln Memorial University UL Rev., 7, p. 37.




How to Cite

Icove, David, and Thomas R. May. 2021. “State of the Arc (Mapping)”. Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers 38 (1).