Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


16, 2003



  • Forensic
    Science Laboratory evaluates evidence obtained in crimes involving
    firearms, bombings and suspected arson incidents. Its services include:

    Firearm and toolmark examinations, including examination of firearms,
    comparison and identification of bullets and cartridge casings, restoration
    of obliterated serial numbers, determination of firing distances,
    identification of toolmarks related to bombing and arson incidents
    caused by a variety of hand and machine tools, and crime scene reconstruction
    in shooting incidents.

    National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Program,
    a nationwide program using the Integrated Ballistics Identification
    System (IBIS). This computer system, combined with microscopy and
    digital imaging, quickly searches databases for matching striations
    left by a firearm on fired bullets and cartridge casings. This search
    allows trained examiners to associate evidence in crimes committed
    with firearms in multiple locations throughout a geographical region.
    Without the system it would virtually take years to comb through evidence
    in many locations and be able to identify fired ammunition components
    to a particular firearm.

    More explosives examinations than any laboratory in the world, including
    key roles in the investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
    Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and other major criminal and industrial
    explosions. Evidence collected at scenes of explosions is examined
    to identify the type of explosive used and to identify all the parts
    of the explosive device. Forensic chemists work closely with investigators
    to find device components that will help link a suspect to the crime.

    Fire Debris Analysis: The fire debris chemist's primary role is the
    examination of fire debris evidence for the recovery and characterization
    of any ignitable liquid residues in the debris sample. Commonly, these
    residues would be from gasoline, kerosene or perhaps charcoal lighter
    fluid. After the analysis is complete, the chemist generates a report
    as to their findings and is subject to testifying in federal, state
    and local courts as an expert witness. As an expert witness, the chemist's
    role is to explain his findings to the jury and judge.

  • Fire
    Research Laboratory (FRL), the first facility in the world dedicated
    to fire scene investigations, including the ability to reconstruct
    fire scenes to determine how fires begin and spread. Its services

    FRL provides the necessary facilities, equipment and staff to work
    on important fire investigation issues such as fire scene reconstruction,
    flashover studies, validation of fire pattern analysis indicators,
    impact of accelerants on fire growth and spread, ignition studies
    and electrical fire cause analysis. Until the development of the FRL,
    there were no fire measurement facilities in the United States, or
    elsewhere, dedicated to the specific needs of the fire investigation

  • Alcohol
    and Tobacco Laboratory (ATL), of the Department of the Treasury's
    Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which conducts chemical,
    physical and instrumental analyses to support illicit alcohol and
    tobacco trade investigations, ensures collection of taxes due and
    product safety for consumers.

    and nonbeverage alcohol products are analyzed to ensure that marketed
    products are in compliance with Federal regulations. Beverage alcohol
    products include distilled spirits, wine and malt beverages. Nonbeverage
    alcohol products include food, flavorings, medicinals, toiletries,
    industrial solvents and fuels. Chemical and physical analyses are
    performed on tobacco products to classify them for tax purposes.
  • The
    General Services Administration (GSA) commenced construction of the
    NLC in August 2000 on 35-acre site in suburban Maryland. The new facility,
    dedicated June 16, 2003, replaces the laboratory ATF maintained in
    Rockville, Md., since 1978.

  • The 176,000 square
    foot building extends the length of two football fields and, in addition
    to laboratory analysis space, includes areas for conferences and training,
    a library, and administrative and service support functions.

  • As a result of
    innovative engineering and cutting-edge technology, the air and water
    treatment facility incorporates the highest degree of recycling and
    clean air capability.

  • Final costs for
    the project, including the site, design and special engineering total
    $106 million.

  • In
    addition to ATF and GSA, the project team included Higgins Development
    Partners of Chicago, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore,
    and the architectural firm of Kallman, McKinnell and Wood of Boston.