The secret world of burns is investigated with the help of veteran firefighter Allan Newell. How does one distinguish the four degrees of burns? What’s the ‘rule of nines?’ How did burning at the stake work? Also news and pop culture. Plus: Which is the lesser of two evils? Having 50% of your body burned in a car fire or getting mercury poisoning?

Music: “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by The Ink Spots

Charity of the week: Burn Camps: http://www.canadianburnfoundation.org/donate.php




23 Responses

  1. First, kudos on supporting Burn Camp. She is a long time fire fighter and has worked with burn camp for well over a decade. So on her behalf, thanks! She’s always looking for people to support that worthy cause. I will also admonish Kevin on her behalf. She would definitely not approve of his joke.

    Second, I’ve had second degree burns twice over large portions of my body and I would have to say, give me the mercury poisoning. Being burned was one of the most excruciating things I have ever had to endure. Not only am I big crybaby but I’m done being intelligent. I want someone to look after me.

    Third, as mentioned in Horsetrack Hooligans, Norman Morrison doused himself in kerosene and set himself on fire below Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s Pentagon office. He also was protesting the Vietnam War but the notable part is he did it in the US and he was an American Quaker.


    Finally, on a related note, check out the documentary 9/11. A French documentary about NY Firefighters during 9/11. One of the most amazing things is that the documentary team was just there to make a doc about NY Firefighters when all of a sudden 9/11 goes down. Pretty amazing stuff.


    ps. A nod to my grade school favourite book and movie ‘The Outsiders’. Johnny and Ponyboy rescue some kids from a burning church. Johnny was burned horribly and eventually died prompting the greasers to ‘Do it for Johnny’.

    1. Oh, I forgot the add the part where my sister-in-law is the long time fire fighter and burn camp worker.

  2. Re: the dog tags serial number burned into the guy.

    When I was a kid (12 or so), I picked up a soldering iron by the wrong end while it was on.
    The serial number was visible for a few months, right where the index finger joins the hand.

    So it does happen.

  3. :shudders: Burns are the one Forensic thing that really creeps me out. Interestingly, people who die in fires get their muscles contorted due to the extreme heat, and tissue tear injuries, which make it very difficult to tell whether the person died naturally or was murdered by stabbing.

    There’s an attempted murder case right now (Thurs Feb 21) here in Perth; a woman was doused in petrol and set alight; she’s currently in hospital with 60% burns.

    Another pop culture moment is THE BURNING (1981), a Friday the 13th clone that is actually better and scarier than most of the F13TH films- it concerns a mean camp janitor, Cropsey, hideously burned in a prank gone wrong, who decides that revenge is a dish best served hot and with a huge pair of garden shears. Contains a celebrated sequence where 5 people are killed at once on a raft, plus debut performances from Holly Hunter, Fisher Stephens and Jason Alexander!

  4. Another great episode guys. Although, I’m surprised chemical burns and, say, burns from Lye, weren’t discussed more. Especially in the Pop Culture section – Fight Club.

  5. The New Yorker just did an article about a man who had to have a face transplant (the first in the United States and third in the world) because of a burn he got from his head touching a high voltage power line. The article itself is for subscribers only, but I’ve pulled out the gruesome damage report quote:

    “After skin, fat, and muscle were removed, a drill was needed to burr the scorched skull. ‘We got down to bone,’ he said; in some areas, the bone had died all the way through. ‘After multiple trips to the operating room, he literally looked like a skull on top of a body. Everything was gone.'”

    You can see the New Yorker abstract at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/13/120213fa_fact_khatchadourian and the wikipedia page for the guy, Dallas Wiens, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Wiens.

  6. I thought you might have mentioned the self-immolations occurring in Tibet at the moment too. I thought I’d heard something about them and, unfortunately, I was right: 22 deaths over the last year, basically protesting China’s control of Tibet I think.


    I’m not sure I’m game to watch that YouTube clip, after listening to you guys watching it – is there any video of that, like when you watched the 2 Girls 1 Cup video (and I’m never forgiving you for making me curious enough to watch that, btw)? That would make great radio. 😉

  7. In regard to the woman who microwaved her baby and blamed it on an epileptic seizure, Lateral Temporal Lobe Epilepsy can cause people to become confused and do things “on autopilot” instead of falling down.


    Amber says one of her friends with that would sometimes put things in the microwave as if they were preparing their lunch and not remember doing it afterward.

    So, it’s possible, but good luck convincing a jury.

  8. In my day, we only had three degrees of Burns!

    The worst burn I ever had was when I somehow glued a burning match head to my finger. And they say the Girl Guides have wimpy activities.

  9. Do you think there would be enough material to do an episode on the myth of Spontaneous Human Combustion?

    And being pedantic, but the Inquisition didn’t actually kill anyone (So they say). They sentenced them, and then released them to the secular authorities, who were probably informed that it would be a really really good idea to burn some people on those days; As in, you sure have a nice family, it would be a shame if someone dug up their corpses and imprisoned them for an indefinite time period, took all the land and wealth and then burned our way though the rest of your genetic line.
    And it didn’t really matter if you recanted or not, you would just end up in heaven/purgatory instead of hell at the end of the day.

  10. Since nobody ever mentions computer games, I have to big-up Access’ “Under a Killing Moon” and its goofy fire-safety mascot, Inspector Burns. There’s nothing quite like a pizza-faced fireman telling kids never to play with matches, no no no.

  11. I’ve got one, “The Devils” by Ken Russell, with Oliver Reed and Veronica Redgrave. One of the nastiest burning on the stake scenes I’ve ever seen, Oliver Reed’s character is burnt, on the stake as a witch, and they got massive blisters forming on him…very unpleasant.

  12. An interesting read is The Burn Journals. It’s the memoir of a guy who tried to commit suicide as a teenager by setting himself on fire. It documents everything from the lead p to the act,through his time in recovery wards and psyche wards.