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Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D

Abstract

Arc mapping was first introduced in the 2001 edition of NFPA 921 and was subsequently expanded so that in the recent editions it constitutes one of the four main methods for determining the origin of a fire. Careful consideration of engineering principles and large-scale experimental studies on the subject indicates that the relevance and prominence of arc mapping as a leading indicator of fire origin is greatly overstated. The technique is valid and applicable only in some very limited scenarios. Yet it has seen very extensive use in recent years by investigators preparing fire reports. In many cases, such attempted use of arc mapping is based on incorrect and invalid hypotheses, which are often implicitly assumed to be true instead of being explicitly stated. The following are myths: (i) An abundance of arc beads at a given locale means that fire originated in that area, while a paucity of arc beads indicates that it did not. (ii) When multiple arcs are present on a circuit, the direction of arcing will necessarily proceed upstream towards the power source. (iii) If an appliance is the victim of a fire, internal arcing will be primarily near the exterior of the unit, while arcing deep inside indicates a fire origin at that place. NFPA is urged to revise NFPA 921 to eliminate arc mapping as one of the four main methods for establishing fire origin, and to subsume it under the more general category of “fire patterns.” In addition, it is important that NFPA 921 reduce the implied general utility of the method and provide more explicit information on its interpretation and its limitations and on the circumstances under which it may be a valid method for assisting in the determination of the fire origin.

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Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D.

Abstract

Short circuits to building wiring can happen due to electrical mishaps, or as a result of fire impinging on the wiring. In either case, this may cause arcing.  It is sometimes erroneously assumed that this must produce signs of ‘electrical activity,’ which is a term often used by fire investigators to mean discernable arc marks or arc beads.  While such artifacts may indeed be produced, it is shown that it does not necessarily happen in every case.  Shorting and arcing (whether due to fire or due to an accident) may occur without leaving physical evidence that is discernable as an arc bead.  Ejecta also may, but do not have to be produced.  Some variables have been identified which can influence the size of arc beads, when arc beads are produced.  But stochastic aspects dominate, and no predictive correlations can be expected.  It is also shown that there are no prediction methods available to establish if an arc locale will result in severing or welding together of conductors.

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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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From: The Desk of Scotty Baker

To: The CCAI Training Committee

Thank You

Over the last several training seminars, even as an old hand, I have learned new information concerning fires and how they do what they do.

 

Get started today

Attention - CCAI's next training seminar is scheduled for March 6-8, 2017 - Attention

The focus will be on Interviewing, Report Writing and Fundamentals

Register now online or Fill out the registration form and email, mail or fax it

             Group-photo-web_10-2016

 

Spoliation of Evidence: A Fire Scene Dilemma

by Guy E. Burnette, Jr., Esquire

Introduction

The term "spoliation" refers to the loss, destruction or alteration of an object which is evidence (or potential evidence) in a legal proceeding.  It is a concept first recognized by courts in England more than a century ago which has only recently taken on significance in this country.  However, it is an issue of particular importance to the field of fire investigation and will likely become increasingly significant as courts are called to decide the consequences of lost or altered physical evidence in fire litigation cases.

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Recalls

Recall Date: May 22, 2014
Recall Number: 14-190

Cordelia Lighting Recalls Two-Lamp Fluorescent Shop Lights Due to Fire Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Home Depot

Description

This recall involves Commercial Electric brand basic hanging shop lights that use two, 48-inch, two-pin, T8, fluorescent lamps. The recalled shop light is a metal light fixture with four plastic lamp sockets and a white finish. It is 48 inches long, 4.25 inches wide and 2.5 inches high and has two 10.5-inch long chains for hanging. The lamp sockets must be snapped into place during installation. Model number CESL401-06 and SKU number 201-462 are printed on a white label on the top of the fixture.

 

Click here for full details

 

Recall Date: May 13, 2014
Recall Number: 14-173

Paramount Recalls Trident Ultraviolet Sanitation Systems for Pools Due to Fire Hazard

Description

This recall involves all Paramount Trident Series 2 (UV II) ultraviolet sanitation systems.  The sanitation systems are a gray tube that stands 32 inches high by 11 inches in diameter.  They are plumbed into the pool’s water circulation pipes and plugged in or hard-wired into an electrical system. The pool’s water runs through the unit and is sanitized by ultraviolet lamps. This is a secondary sanitation system used in conjunction with chemical sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine. “Trident UV II” or “Series 2 Trident Ultraviolet Corporation UV Sanitation System” is printed on a black label on the front of the units. In addition, a silver sticker on the units has the following wording “Paramount Series 2 Ultraviolet Pool Sanitizer System,” “Trident Series 2 Ultraviolet Water Treatment System” or “Trident Ultra UV Series 2 Water Treatment System” and a date code of 9/9/2013 or later. Some date codes consist of a series of letters. Consumers with letters in the date code need to go to www.1paramount.com to determine if their unit is included in the recall.

 

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Back to Basics: The Fire Tetrahedron

How often have you heard the phrase “back to the basics”? It seems
as though every time you turn around you are being instructed to go
“back to the basics,” whether it’s with our children and their math
homework or it’s in the fire service with establishing a water supply,
advancing a hose line, or conducting ventilation. The “basics” are
those tasks that you need to complete first, and they must be completed
every time.

Coffee Break Training

How often have you heard the phrase “back to the basics”? It seems as though every time you turn around you are being instructed to go “back to the basics,” whether it’s with our children and their math homework or it’s in the fire service with establishing a water supply,advancing a hose line, or conducting ventilation. The “basics” are those tasks that you need to complete first, and they must be completed every time.

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White Paper-NHTSA

A Case Study of 214 Fatal Crashes Involving Fire.
Carl L. Ragland
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Hsi-Sheng Hsia
Research and Special Programs Administration
United States
Paper Number 9X-S4-O-08
Carl L. Ragland
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Hsi-Sheng HsiaResearch and Special Programs Administration
United States
Paper Number 9X-S4-O-08

ABSTRACT
A detailed case study of 214 fatal tire related 
crashes was conducted to determine whether the death was 
caused by the fire or blunt trauma. The cases were also 
examined to determine the specific crash conditions which 
caused the fire. This analysis was necessary because none 
of the existing fatal crash databases contained sufficient 
details to determine the impact configuration or the cause 
of death. Two hundred and ninety three (293) fatalities 
occurred in these crashes. Sixty-five (65) ofthese fatalities 
resulted from fire, with 30 of these fatalities from 16 rear 
impacts. The speed of impact was determined in eight of 
the 16 cases which caused these 30 burn fatalities. In these 
eight cases, the average rear impact speed was 54 mph with 
speeds ranging from 50 - 60 mph, at 7 1% overlap (7 1 % of 
the rear vehicle width engaged), and collinear at 6:00 
O’clock. By projecting these cases to the national sample, 
the number of rear impact fire related fatalities may be 
estimated between 94 and 191.

Wildfire Origin and Cause Investigation

Part 1

As the spring fire season approaches, fire investigators across the country will be responding to wildfires to conduct origin and cause investigations. In many jurisdictions, investigators are assigned to a type of investigation that is unfamiliar. During the response, the investigator may be thinking that it is no big deal, having already investigated hundreds of structure fires. How hard can a wildfire be? The answer is simple; you must be trained in wildfire investigation to understand the process.

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Part 2

In Part 2 of “Wildfire Origin and Cause Investigation,” we will continue to discuss the main points for the local fire investigator to focus on when conducting a wildfire investigation. Hopefully, last month’s article was an eyeopener for some local investigators to expand their education. The topics we will cover this month will be fire cause determination and fire cause categories/ignition sources. Investigators should become familiar with NFPA 921 and NWCG Wildfire Origin and Cause Determination Handbook.

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