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ABSTRACT

This research project is a continuation of a previous study (Hicks, et al., 2006), which analyzed fire patterns produced from wood cribs.  The current study continued this fire patterns research by burning ten commercially available polyurethane (PU) foam chairs and documenting the fire patterns.  The reproducibility of fire patterns was analyzed to compare one PU foam chair test to the next, as well as in association to those produced by burning wood cribs.  Two aspects of fire pattern production were examined.  The first aspect focuses on the reproducibility of a conical shaped fire pattern formed on standard gypsum wallboard surfaces.  Second, this study analyzed the effects of the upper layer and its role in the production of a conical shaped fire pattern.  This study showed that although the time to reach the fire pattern differed, a duplicate fire pattern was reproduced from a similar loss of mass.  The results of this study illustrates that similar fuel packages will reproduce a similar conical shaped fire pattern.  Additionally, lowering of the upper layer was found to affect the resulting conical shaped fire pattern. A subsequent aspect of this research is the implication that these patterns can be utilized by fire investigators in determining an area of origin.

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ABSTRACT

The fire investigation industry is considered to be lagging behind the rest of the forensic science fields in its assessment of the performance of methodological approaches and conclusions drawn by practitioners within the field.  Despite the best efforts of certifying bodies and industry members, there are still many unknowns within the profession.  As such, the researchers have collected a large survey of demographics to formulate a picture of our industry with regards to experience, age, employment, training, and opinions regarding methodology within the industry.  In addition to these demographics, the researchers collected data regarding area of origin determination both with and without measurable data (depth of char, calcination) to evaluate its effectiveness when applied without an on-site scene examination.  This permitted the comparison of the demographics and accuracy in determining the most important hypothesis in fire investigations, the area of origin. It is shown that 73.8% of the participants without measurable data and 77.7% with measurable data accurately determined the area of origin.  Thus, the total percentage of participants choosing the correct area increased 3.9% with the inclusion of measurable data as part of the given.  Additional selected outcomes from this research are presented within this paper.

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By Joe Sesniak, IAAI-CFI, IAAI-CI, CFEI, GIFireE

Loose electrical connections at screw terminals can create an increase in resistance, which promotes development of oxide layer(s) on the affected metals and localized heating. While the oxides are conductive (meaning the circuit will still “work”) its resistance is higher than that of the original metals involved (NFPA 921, 2014)[1]. The nature of the heating results in a locally high “watt density” and creates a potentially competent ignition source for proximal fuels (DeHaan, J., Icove, D., 2012)[2]. Recent literature, including works by Benfer and Gottuk (2013)[3], Korinek and Lopez (2013) [4] and Shea (2006)[5], provide detailed explanation of the chemical and physical processes of oxidation (copper I and copper II oxides) and corrosion associated with high resistance or “glowing” electrical connections. It is the visible effects of such localized high resistance heating on the receptacle terminals, and the persistence of these effects in a post-flashover fire environment, that are the subject of this paper. INTRODUCTION In this research, glowing connections were created on multiple electrical receptacles to produce heat effects on only one line side terminal connection of each receptacle. The purpose of this experiment was not to determine how heat effects manifest themselves on the terminals of electrical receptacles and associated conductors. The focus of this study was to determine whether or not the known effects persist beyond flashover at a visually perceptible level. This information is of importance to the fire investigator in the field. The reader should note that this work is considered preliminary. Potential variables were minimized, such as having conductors terminated on all screw connections and having multiple receptacles with varying loads on the same circuit. Further testing is required to evaluate the significance of such variables. Nonetheless the results of this testing are notable. The “heat damaged” test receptacles were installed in metal junction boxes and exposed to a room and contents fire that transitioned through flashover. The compartment was not instrumented. The point of origin and fuel load arrangement was selected to expose the receptacles to varying levels and duration of heat intensity. The post-flashover persistence of the effects of a glowing connection was subsequently visually evaluated. The intent was to provide fire investigators a resource for the preliminary field evaluation of electrical receptacles as a potential ignition source.

Loose electrical connections at screw terminals can create an increase in resistance, which promotes development of oxide layer(s) on the affected metals and localized heating. While the oxides are conductive (meaning the circuit will still “work”) its resistance is higher than that of the original metals involved (NFPA 921, 2014)[1]. The nature of the heating results in a locally high “watt density” and creates a potentially competent ignition source for proximal fuels(DeHaan, J., Icove, D., 2012)[2].  Recent literature, including works by Benfer and Gottuk (2013)[3], Korinek and Lopez (2013)[4] and Shea (2006)[5], provide detailed explanation of the chemical and physical processes of oxidation (copper I and copper II oxides) and corrosion associated with high resistance or “glowing” electrical connections. It is the visible effects of such localized high resistance heating on the receptacle terminals, and the persistence of these effects in a post-flashover fire environment, that are the subject of this paper.

INTRODUCTION

In this research, glowing connections were created on multiple electrical receptacles to produce heat effects on only one line side terminal connection of each receptacle. The purpose of this experiment was not to determine how heat effects manifest themselves on the terminals of electrical receptacles and associated conductors. The focus of this study was to determine whether or not the known effects persist beyond flashover at a visually perceptible level. This information is of importance to the fire investigator in the field. The reader should note that this work is considered preliminary. Potential variables were minimized, such as having conductors terminated on all screw connections and having multiple receptacles with varying loads on the same circuit. Further testing is required to evaluate the significance of such variables. Nonetheless the results of this testing are notable.The “heat damaged” test receptacles were installed in metal junction boxes and exposed to a room and contents fire that transitioned through flashover. The compartment was not instrumented. The point of origin and fuel load arrangement was selected to expose the receptacles to varying levels and duration of heat intensity. The post-flashover persistence of the effects of a glowing connection was subsequently visually evaluated. The intent was to provide fire investigators a resource for the preliminary field evaluation of electrical receptacles as a potential ignition source.

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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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CCAI Training Seminar - September 24-27, 2018

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Wind Driven Fires

Wind blowing into the broken window of a room on fire can turn a "routine room and contents fire" into a floor-to-ceiling firestorm. Historically, this has led to a significant number of firefighter fatalities and injuries, particularly in high-rise buildings where the fire must be fought from the interior of the structure.

Wind-Driven Fire in a Ranch-Style House in Texas, 2009

On April 12, 2009, a fire in a one-story ranch home in Texas claimed the lives of two fire fighters.  Sustained high winds occurred during the incident.  The winds caused a rapid change in the dynamics of the fire after the failure of a large section of glass in the rear of the house.

Wind Driven Fire in Home, Texas, 2009. Aerial view of damage to the structure. Photo credit: Houston Fire Department.

Wind Driven Fire in Home, Texas, 2009. Aerial view of damage to the structure. Photo credit: Houston Fire Department.

NIST performed computer simulations of the fire using the Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS)  and Smokeview, a visualization tool, to provide insight on the fire development and thermal conditions that may have existed in the residence during the fire.

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NBC News - Trial by Fire

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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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