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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 

HR 549: National Bombing Prevention Act of 2009

Introduced by Representative Peter T. King

January 15, 2009

The following is from the Library of Congress - Thomas

National Bombing Prevention Act of 2009 - Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an Office for Bombing Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Protective Security Coordination Division of the Office of Infrastructure Protection. Assigns the Office primary responsibility for enhancing the ability and coordinating the efforts of the nation to deter, detect, prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist explosive attacks in the United States.

Directs the Secretary to partner with other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, and the private sector to: (1) develop a pilot program that includes a domestic breeding program for explosives detection canines; (2) increase the number of capability assessments of explosives detection canine units; (3) continue development of a scientifically-based training curriculum to enhance consensus-based national training and certification standards to provide for the effective use of explosives detection canines; and (4) continue engagement in explosives detection canine research and development activities through partnerships with the Science and Technology Directorate and the Technical Support Working Group.

Directs the Secretary to develop and periodically update a national strategy to prevent and prepare for terrorist explosive attacks in the United States.

Directs the Secretary, acting through the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, to: (1) ensure coordination and information sharing regarding nonmilitary research, development, testing, and evaluation activities relating to the detection and prevention of, protection against, and response to terrorist attacks in the United States using explosives or improvised explosive devices and the development of tools and technologies necessary to neutralize and disable explosive devices; (2) coordinate with relevant federal department heads to ensure that military policies, procedures, activities, tools, and technologies to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks are adapted to nonmilitary uses; (3) establish a technology transfer program to facilitate the identification, modification, and commercialization of technology and equipment for use by agencies, emergency response providers, and the private sector against such attacks; and (4) establish a working group to advise and assist in the identification of military technologies developed by the Department of Defense (DOD) or the private sector to protect against and respond to explosive attacks.

Amends the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 to direct the Comptroller General to utilize explosives detection canine teams of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other DHS agencies to strengthen security and capacity.

Directs the Secretary to submit a report to specified congressional committees on the administration of canine procurement activities by DHS to deter, prevent, detect, and protect against terrorist explosive attacks in the United States that includes consideration of the feasibility of reducing the price paid for the procurement of untrained canines."

 

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