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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.

 

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Assembly Bill #27

Introduced by Assembly Member Jefferies

December 1, 2008

The following is from

www.leginfo.gov:

"An act to amend Section 451.5 of the Penal Code."

AB 27, as introduced, Jeffries. Arson: aggravated: punishment. Existing law defines the crime of aggravated arson, and makes a person guilty of that crime if the fire caused property damage and other losses in excess of $5,650,000. Existing law specifies costs to be included in calculating property damage for purposes of these provisions and states legislative intent to review the property damage threshold in light of inflation within 5 years. Existing law repeals the provisions relating to property damage on January 1, 2010. This bill would increase the amount of damage required for a person to be guilty of aggravated arson from $5,650,000 to $6,500,000 and extend the repeal date for the provisions relating to property damage until January 1, 2014. By extending the operative effect of an existing crime, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local

agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.

State-mandated local program: yes."

A full description of this proposed bill is at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_27&sess=CUR&house=B&author=jeffries

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Phone:  (909) 865-5004
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This is the official website of the California Conference of Arson Investigators.

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