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Order granting Motion for Spoliation sanctions and dismissing for failure to follow NFPA 921. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a good discussion of the basics and how poor housekeeping led to a very bad result.  Submitted by Michael Durr, Experienced Tennessee Subrogation & Recovery Attorney, on LinkedIn for discussion.  Click here to join the discussion.

BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are generally undisputed and have been set forth in detail, for the most part, in the Court’s prior Order on Defendant’s Motion for Spoliation Sanctions. (Dkt. No. 35.) In sum, Plaintiff Bear River claims that the speed control deactivation switch (SCDS) in the 1994 Ford F-150 pickup truck owned by its insureds, Jeff and Julie Schoepf, was defective and caused a fire that spread from the truck to the Schoepf’s house.1 Bear River’s claim is based on an investigation conducted by Bear River’s expert, Tad Norris, a fire investigator with IC Specialty Services, who was assigned to inspect the scene and determine the origin of the fire.  On behalf of Bear River, Mr. Norris inspected the scene and decided what evidence should be preserved without Ford’s presence, consent or input. As part of that investigation, Mr. Norris removed the SCDS’ hexport and electrical housing and claims that he sent both to another expert, Jeff Morrill, who requested an examination of the hexport. Mr. Morrill acknowledged receipt of the hexport, but claims he never received the electrical housing. Following Norris’ inspection and investigation, the scene of the fire was destroyed. Additionally, Plaintiff lost the hexport before it could be inspected and tested by Ford, and Plaintiff lost the electrical housing before inspection and/or testing by anyone.

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Accurate identification of the cause of a Wildfire plays a critical behind-the-scenes role when it comes to the presentation of evidence in Criminal, Coronial or Civil proceedings, or to gain an accurate picture of the cause of fires in an area. So how do you find the cause in a blackened landscape that may cover thousands of hectares?

Successfully preventing the unplanned ignition of wildfires is reliant on three key areas;

  • Engineering (or that of appropriate legislation governing the use of fire in the open and adequate penalties, authority to investigate fires etc);
  • Education (of the public and firefighters in wildfire ignition prevention and reporting of suspicious activity relating to the cause of a wildfire) and;
  • Enforcement (pro-active investigation of wildfires and follow-up prosecutions).

 

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On May 18, 2017, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsyvania, ruled that a plaintiff's electrical engineering expert could not testify regarding the origin of a fire and fur excluded a portion of his testimony regarding the fire cause.

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This article was member submitted and includes a short comment about the article at the bottom.

ABSTRACT

Liquid fuel spill/pool fires represent the initiating fire hazard in many applications ranging from accidents at industrial plants using combustible liquids to residential arson fires involving flammable fuels.  Given the relevancy of such fires and broad range of potential scenarios, it is important to understand how liquid fuel fires develop and how to accurately calculate the fire size based on knowledge of the fuel type, quantity and the surface it is poured on.  In addition, it is important to quantitatively correlate fire size to spill area and burn patterns.  This understanding will afford the fire protection and investigation communities the ability to properly assess the potential hazards and forensically evaluate damage from fuel spill fire events.  The purpose of this study is to expand the fundamental understanding of liquid fuel fire dynamics, establish the utility of forensic tools, and validate empirically-based correlations used to model spill fire scenarios.  A multitude of small-, intermediate-, and large-scale noncombustible liquid spill and fuel spill fire tests were conducted using a total of six different liquid fuels and eight different substrates.  The results of these tests provide insight into the differences in fire dynamics between pool and spill fires (i.e., thick and thin fuel depths), provide a methodology by which liquid fuel fire events can be assessed, and identify forensic indicators that can be used in the analysis of liquid fuel fire events.

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from Firehouse.com by Karen Facey

I recently joined “the dark side" after I left the public sector as a fire marshal to become a fire investigator for Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. While we collectively banter and joke about people leaving the public sector and starting their private sector careers, the reality is we all have the same needs and motivation. Ask any first responder, and they will likely tell you they love what they do because they get “to help people.” Ask any private fire investigator why they investigate fires and they will also answer “to help people.”

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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 

Congratulations

CCAI extends sincere congratulations to Wayne Tyson who was presented with the most prestigous "Lifetime Member" award along with a 45-year member pin from the International Association of Arson Investigators.


Wayne_Tyson-45yearpin-4x6

Superior Court of Arizona Maricopa County - Under Advisement Ruling

UNDER ADVISEMENT RULING

The Court has had under advisement Plaintiff Barbara A. Sloan’s (“Sloan”) Rule 60 Motion.  Having read and considered the briefing and having heard oral argument, the Court issues the following ruling.

Ruling Document 

CoScentrix Expands Recall of DD Brand Candles; Exclusively at Hobby Lobby

Description

This recall involves four types of DD branded single-wick candles: Mason jars in 5- and 12- ounce sizes, decorative jars in 10- and 20-ounce sizes, 13-ounce coffee tins and 13-ounce jars with a holiday theme. The candles were sold in a variety of fragrances and colors.

The 5-ounce Mason jars are 2.25 inches wide by 3.75 inches high. The 12-ounce Mason jars are 3 inches wide by 5 inches high. The jars have gray metal lids. The DD logo and the word Handcrafted are in raised letters on the front of the jars. The candle fragrance and size are printed on a hang tang attached to the mouth of the jars.

The 10-ounce decorative jars are 4 inches wide by 3 inches high. The 20-ounce decorative jars are 5 inches wide by 4 inches high and hold a candle. The jars have gray metal lids with the DD logo in raised letters on the top. The candle fragrance and size are printed on a rectangular label on the front of the jar.

The 13-ounce coffee tins are 3.5 inches wide by 4 inches high and have a silver metal lid. The candle size and fragrance are printed on a label that wraps around the outside of the tin.

The 13-ounce holiday candle jars are 3.75 inches wide by 4 inches high and have silver metal lids with the DD logo in raised letters on the top.  The DD logo inside a floral wreath, the fragrance and size are printed directly onto the front of the jar in silver.

See the full details at CPSC

NHTSA Recall - Sub-Woofer Electrical Short

Summary:

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 Toyota Avalon vehicles manufactured February 9, 2010, to October 22, 2012.  In the affected vehicles, the sub-woofer speaker located in the trunk may experience an intermittent electrical short which may cause damage to the integrated circuit (IC) in the audio amplifier.  In some cases, the damaged IC may allow a constant electrical current flow to the sub-woofer.

See the full details at NHTSA

NHTSA Recall - Exhaust Pipe Leak may Result in Fire

Summary:

Nova Bus (Nova) is recalling certain model year 2007 LFS transit buses manufactured January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2007. In the affected vehicles, the band clamp on the flex pipe between the turbocharger and the diesel particulate filter may be incorrectly located allowing the exhaust pipe to leak hot exhaust gases onto nearby components.

See full details at NHTSA

Development of Standardized Cooking Fires For Evaluation of Prevention Technologies

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Development of Standardized Cooking Fires for Evaluation of Prevention Technologies: Data Analysis"
Authors: Joshua Dinaburg, Daniel Gottuk – Hughes Associates, Inc.

July 2014 report

Beginning in 2010, the Foundation began a program to review the potential effectiveness of various technologies potentially capable of preventing cooking range top fires. A workshop conducted as part of that project considered the emergence of commercial products on the market and identified the need to develop standardized tests and criteria to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of such devices. This report summarizes and analyzes the results of two live fire test series conducted to form the basis for such a test protocol.

pdf Download the report.  (PDF, 5 MB) pdf Download the executive summary. (PDF, 20 KB)

October 2013 report

Cooking-equipment related fires are a leading cause of U.S. fire loss. Beginning in the mid 1980’s, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and home appliance industry undertook a comprehensive review of strategies to mitigate death, injury and property loss from cooking fires. All strategies were engineering strategies defined by a condition to be detected (e.g., overheat of pan or food in pan, absence of person actively engaged in cooking process, early-stage fire on stovetop) and an action to be taken (e.g., shut off cooking heat, sound alarm, suppress fire). As part of this study, a comprehensive review of existing technologies was done.

In 2010, the Foundation conducted a study supported by NIST to develop this action plan. The study focused particularly on prevention technologies suitable for use on or with home cooking appliances. and consisted of a literature and technology review; the development of an enhanced technology evaluation methodology based on an in-depth review of cooking fire statistics; and the evaluation of currently available technologies using this methodology. The project culminated with a one day workshop of 35 leaders from the kitchen appliance, fire service, and user communities who met to review the above findings and identify gaps in information. The highest priority action item identified at that workshop toward implementation of commercially available cooking fire mitigation technologies was: "Develop standard fire scenarios and create test methods and performance criteria which can feed into standards development"

This report presents the results of a follow on project sponsored by NIST to gather data towards this goal.

pdf Download the report.  (PDF, 2 MB)

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