NMDPS Forensic Laboratories Bureau

Trace Unit (Fire Debris)

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) Forensic Laboratory Bureau currently has an established Trace Unit, specializing in Fire Debris, located in the Las Cruces Forensic Laboratory. Fire Debris analysis assists Investigators by determining if ignitable liquids or residues are present in debris recovered from suspected arson cases.


The Las Cruces Forensic Laboratory employs methods based on the American Standards for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard test methods, and one of the most effective ways of analyzing fire debris evidence is employing the headspace sampling technique in conjunction with Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). This method of analysis remains very effective, and requires that evidence be packaged and stored properly. Please refer to the Fire Debris Packaging Fact Sheet to view types of packaging that will be accepted for testing and analysis of fire debris evidence, as well as considerations to use while packaging evidence.