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Courts examine the “negative corpus” amendments to NFPA 921 and process of elimination in considering the admissibility of fire experts’ opinions

 “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

For many years, it was accepted practice for a fire investigator, having eliminated accidental or natural causes of a fire, to conclude, without specific physical evidence, that the fire must have been caused by human agency, i.e., arson.  In product liability cases, investigators would conclude that an appliance must have been defective, as no other cause of fire could be identified.  Courts routinely accepted such opinion evidence in criminal and civil cases. This method of fire cause determination was referred to as “negative corpus” because it was akin to a conclusion that murder had occurred even though no body had been found.

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From Out of the Abyss...

This week’s article from the past is titled Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted and was written by Benjamin Horton, CPCU, who was President of the National Adjuster Traing School in Louisville, Kentucky..  It is taken from the Decembe 1968 Vol. XVI No.5 issue.

Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted 

In the new issue of NFPA Journal®, President Jim Shannon said the Association will focus on the leading causes of home fires, including cooking. "We also need to continue to push hard for home fire sprinklers. That's still a large priority for NFPA, and we plan to work very aggressively in 2014 on our residential sprinkler initiative," he said.

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NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations plays a fundamental role in fire and explosion investigations. A new edition of NFPA 921 is scheduled to be published in 2014. For years, this document has played a critical role in the training, education and job performance of fire and explosion investigators. It also serves as one of the primary references used by the National Fire Academy to support its fire/arson-related training and education programs. It is imperative that investigators understand the scope, purpose and application of this document, especially since it will be used to judge the quality and thoroughness of their investigations.

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SAN DIEGO - A Team 10 and Scripps News investigation found arson fires are not investigated properly in many American cities -- including San Diego -- due to a chaotic patchwork of reporting systems and standards.

Many deliberately set building fires are not reported to the federal government.

Nationally, just 5 percent of all residential building fires are intentionally set, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.  Data collected by Scripps News suggests the national arson rate to be significantly higher.

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White Paper

Study by: Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid KemalExponent, Inc. USAMichael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas SkowronskiNorthern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USAEric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. HaddenSchool of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid Kemal Exponent, Inc. USA Michael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas Skowronski Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USA Eric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. Hadden School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK

ABSTRACT

Two experimental fires, with contrasting intensities, were conducted in March 2016, in the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) of New Jersey, United States in order to provide a preliminary assessment of the reliability of the fire direction indicators used in wildland fire investigation.  The experiments were part of a larger project intended to measure firebrand production in a forested ecosystem.  As part of this project, fire behavior, as well as the environmental and fuel conditions were also measured.  Two burn parcels, covering an area of approximately 30 hectares each, were ignited from unimproved forest roads which delimited them.  The forest canopy was comprised primarily of pitch pine with intermittent oaks.  The understory contained a mixed shrub layer of huckleberry, blueberry, and scrub oaks. In order to explore a wide range of indicators, objects such as bottles, cans and small fence elements were planted in the burn area, and photographed before and after the fire.  To obtain an accurate measure of pre- and post-fire fuel properties, fuel load, fuel bulk density, and fuel moisture content were also measured. In addition, environmental data (wind velocity and direction, air temperature and humidity) were recorded.  The fire behavior can be reconstructed using measurements of fire rate of spread, fire front temperatures, fire front geometry, and heat fluxes.  Video and infrared cameras were used to document the general fire behavior in selected locations.  This paper represents the first step in the analysis of the fire indicators and focuses on the more intense of the two burns and on the appearance of the macro- and microscale fire pattern indicators.  A majority of the indicators were assessed, although the configuration of the burn parcels, the ignition technique, and precipitation immediately following the fires limited a full study.  The results show that some fire direction indicators are highly dependent on local fire conditions and fire behavior and may be in contradiction with the general spread of the fire.  Overall, this study demonstrates that fire pattern indicators are a useful tool but must be interpreted in the frame of a general analysis of the fire, combined with a good understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics.

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Hoverboards Put On No-Fly List, As Airlines Cite Fire Concerns

Hoverboards like the one seen here won't be allowed on flights by America's top three airlines, which are citing a potential fire hazard related to the self-balancing scooters' powerful lithium-ion batteries.Citing a potential fire hazard, major U.S. airlines are banning hoverboards from their cabins and cargo holds. Announcing its ban, Delta acknowledged the toy's "presence on many gift lists this holiday season" but said safety comes first.

The bans come as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's looking into at least 10 reports of the self-balancing electric scooters bursting in flames — an occurrence that's allegedly been captured on video, in some cases.

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Limoss Recalls Battery Power Packs for Power Recliners and Lift Chairs

Recalled Limoss AKKU-PACK battery power packDescription

This recall involves Limoss AKKU-PACK rechargeable lithium ion battery power packs sold as accessories for Palliser, Flexsteel and Best Home Furnishing power recliners and lift chairs. They are used to power the chair when an electrical outlet is not available.  “Limoss Li-ion Battery Pack,” model number ZB-B1800, code MC 160 and dates codes of 11-0102011 through 6-14-2012 are printed on a white sticker on the side of the unit. Recalled battery power packs are black and measure 6 inches long by 3 inches wide.

 

Read the full details at CPSC.

Horizon Hobby Recalls E-flite Chargers

Recalled E-flite Ultra Micro-4, 4x9W, AC/DC Battery Charger
Description

This recall involves the EFLC1105 E-flite Ultra Micro-4, 4x9W, AC/DC Battery Charger from E-flite. The charger has four independently functioning charge circuits with a LED status display. Each port can charge one 30–150mAh, 1S UM cell, a 1S MCPX cell, or one 120–300mAh 2S pack equipped with a JST-PH, 3-wire connector. The charger measures 5 inches tall by 7 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep.  The charger is blue with a gray, black and blue faceplate with white and black type. “Eflite Celectra UMX-$ Battery Charger” is printed across the center of the charger.

 

See the full details at CPSC

Nestlé Waters North America Recalls Water Dispensers

Description

This recall involves Nestlé three and five gallon cold and hot water dispensers. The units are white and silver in color and measure about 38 inches tall by 13 inches wide. Water is dispensed from the large plastic water bottle on the top of the unit through the machine by pushing on the paddles below that are marked with blue for cold water and red for hot water. The Nestlé Waters North America logo is on the front of the units. Only the following model and serial numbers are included in this recall. The model and serial numbers are printed on a white sticker on the back of the units.
 

Details can be seen at CPSC.
 

 

Recalled Nestlé water dispenser
Model Numbers
Serial Numbers

deBW210EZ

BW210EZES

LB15A12606

LB15A12620

LB15A12622

LB15A12631

LB15A12670

LB15A12687

LB15A12690

LB15A12762

LB15A12763

LB15A12848

LB15A12849

LB15A12870

LB15A12888

GM Threatened With Regulatory Investigation Before Issuing Recall For Fire-Prone Hummers

July 14, 2015

Last week, General Motors announced that it would recall nearly 196,000 Hummer vehicles because simply turning on the heating or cooling system could set the car ablaze.While we reported that federal regulators had received nearly two dozen consumer complaints about the issue over the past seven years, a new report finds that the real number of reported incidents is much higher, and that GM may have continued to put off issuing the recall had it not been for threats of an investigation.

Jalopnik, citing sources with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported earlier today that General Motors only recalled the model year 2006 to 2010 Hummer H3 and model year 2009 to 2010 H3T after regulators threatened to open a formal investigation into the issue.

According to GM, the issue with the Hummer vehicles is related to an electrical part in the heating and cooling system that can overheat and cause a fire inside the dashboard.

Jalopnik reports that the first fire related to the blower issue occurred in August 2008 and was reported to NHTSA the following month.

However, a chronology report [PDF] posted by NHTSA at the time of the recall alleges the company only learned about the issue after receiving two consumer complaints through its Speak Up For Safety program in September 2014.

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