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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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Seminar Dates for 2018 and 2019

March 5-8, 2018  &  September 24-27, 2018

February 25-28, 2019  &  September 23-26, 2019

Flashover Fires in Small Residential Units with an Open Kitchen

ABSTRACT
The open kitchen design in small residential units where fire load density and occupant
load are very high introduces additional fire risk. One big concern is that whether
flash-over can occur which may trigger a big post flashover fire, resulting in severe
casualties and big property damage. It is important to understand and predict the
critical conditions for flashover in this kind of units. Based on a two-layer zone model,
the probability of flashover is investigated by a nonlinear dynamical model. The
temperature of the smoke layer is taken as the only state variable and the evolution
equation is developed in the form of a simplified energy balance equation for the hot
smoke layer. Flashover is considered to occur at bifurcation points. Then the influence
of the floor dimensions and the radiation feedback coefficient on flashover conditions
is examined. When the dimensions of the floor vary, the resulting changes in internal
surface area or size of floor area both have effect on the flashover conditions. When the
radiation feedback coefficient is of small value, there is no possibility of flashover.
With the increase of the radiation feedback coefficient, at first it significantly affects
the conditions for flashover and then moderately when it reaches a larger value. It is
proved that the flashover phenomenon can be demonstrated well by nonlinear
dynamical system and it helps to understand the effect of various control parameters.

Abstract

The open kitchen design in small residential units where fire load density and occupant load are very high introduces additional fire risk. One big concern is that whether flash-over can occur which may trigger a big post flashover fire, resulting in severe casualties and big property damage. It is important to understand and predict the critical conditions for flashover in this kind of units. Based on a two-layer zone model, the probability of flashover is investigated by a nonlinear dynamical model. The temperature of the smoke layer is taken as the only state variable and the evolution equation is developed in the form of a simplified energy balance equation for the hot smoke layer. Flashover is considered to occur at bifurcation points. Then the influence of the floor dimensions and the radiation feedback coefficient on flashover conditions is examined. When the dimensions of the floor vary, the resulting changes in internal surface area or size of floor area both have effect on the flashover conditions. When the radiation feedback coefficient is of small value, there is no possibility of flashover.  With the increase of the radiation feedback coefficient, at first it significantly affects the conditions for flashover and then moderately when it reaches a larger value. It is proved that the flashover phenomenon can be demonstrated well by nonlinear dynamical system and it helps to understand the effect of various control parameters.

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Measurements of Heat and Combustion Products in Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Fires

1 Introduction
A series of new reduced-scale compartment fire experiments were conducted, which included
local measurements of temperature and species composition. The measurements are unique to
the compartment fire literature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive and
quantitative assessment of major and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at two
locations in the upper layer of fire in a 2/5 scale International Organization for Standards (ISO)
9705 room. The enclosure defined in the international standard ISO 9705 “Full-scale room test
for surface products” [1] is an important structure in which to conduct fire research. Many
dozens of research projects and journal articles have focused on this enclosure and the standard
describing its use. It is a common reference point for studies of many fire-related phenomena as
well as fire modeling efforts.

Introduction

A series of new reduced-scale compartment fire experiments were conducted, which includedlocal measurements of temperature and species composition. The measurements are unique tothe compartment fire literature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive andquantitative assessment of major and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at twolocations in the upper layer of fire in a 2/5 scale International Organization for Standards (ISO)9705 room. The enclosure defined in the international standard ISO 9705 “Full-scale room testfor surface products” [1] is an important structure in which to conduct fire research. Manydozens of research projects and journal articles have focused on this enclosure and the standarddescribing its use. It is a common reference point for studies of many fire-related phenomena aswell as fire modeling efforts.

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Fremont Insurance Company and Steve and Diane Foley v. Gro-Green Farms, Inc.

FREMONT INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, and
STEVE FOLEY and DIANE FOLEY, d/b/a RAINBOW CREEK FARMS, Appellants/Cross-Appellees,
v.
GRO-GREEN FARMS, INC., Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
March 17, 2016

Before: K. F. KELLY, P.J., and FORT HOOD and BORRELLO, JJ.

UNPUBLISHED
PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs appeal as of right from orders of the trial court granting defendant's motion for summary disposition and motion in limine. On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred in granting defendant's summary disposition on plaintiffs' tort claims on the basis of the economic loss doctrine, erred in granting defendant's motion for summary disposition on the basis that plaintiffs failed to provide defendant with reasonable notice pursuant to MCL 440.2607(3)(a), and erred in granting defendant's motion in limine and prohibiting evidence relating to "clinkers." Defendant cross appeals as of right, asserting alternative grounds for affirmance of its motion for summary disposition and motion in limine, and disputing the trial court's denial of its motion to amend its witness list. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

 You can access the full article in the members only section


Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted

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 

Protection Against Ignitions Arising Out of Static, Lightning and Stray Currents.

This week's "From Out of the Abyss" article was found in the March 1957, Vol. III-No.3, issue of the CCAI Newsletter.  It is 14 pages long and took up the majority of the newsletter.

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