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By Charles C. Roberts, Jr. Ph. D., P.E.

Event data recorders are typically electronic devices that store information received from sensors connected to the device.  An event data recorder is often referred to as a “black box,” a familiar recording device found on many large passenger aircraft. Event data recorders are now being designed into many other products to aid in diagnosing problems that may arise with usage of the product.  Automobiles, electronic panels, alarm systems and some appliances are equipped with event data recorders.  When a loss occurs, it is becoming more likely that some evidentiary information concerning the loss will be recorded on some device.  Typical recorded data may be the time a heat sensor activated in a fire alarm panel, the number of loads handled by a clothes dryer, or the speed of an automobile prior to a collision.  The following three examples illustrate the type of data retained in “black boxes” and their significance.  It should be noted that this article deals with numerical data retained and not visual data retained from the prolific surveillance camera.

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Abstract

Grilling has become part of many celebrations and regular meals. Unfortunately, grilling also causes fires and burns. National estimates of reported fires derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey show that in 2009-2013, grills, hibachis or barbecues were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, including an average of 3,900 structure fires and 5,100 outside or unclassified fires. These 8,900 fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 reported civilian injuries, and $118 million in direct property damage. Almost all of the losses resulted from structure fires. Five out of six grills involved in reported fires were fueled by gas. The leading causes of grill fires were a failure to clean, having the grill too close to something that could catch fire and leaving the grill unattended. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills. In 2014, 8,700 thermal burns involving grills were seen in hospital emergency departments. Roughly three out of five thermal burns were non-fire burns, typically caused by contact with the grill or its contents. Children under five accounted for one-third of the contact burns involving grills.

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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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Selecting Among Engineer Experts (aka, What Kind of Expert Do I need for This Loss?) JH Nolt June 29, 2017
Do you want your Proctologist doing your Neuro-surgery? They are both licensed MDs aren't they?
Do you want your Wills and Trusts Attorney working on your Subrogation case? They are both licensed Attorneys aren't they?
Do you want your Workman's Comp adjuster handling your Large Property Liability loss? Adjusters are all licensed adjusters aren't they?
Similar concerns exist amont the various engineering disciplines and licenses. They are all forensic engineers aren't they?
In a word - No, No, No and No.

While there are over 10,000 different types of experts, in California there are eighteen types of licensed engineers.  

The three main types are:
  • Civil
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical

 

The others are:

  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Control System Engineer
  • Corrosion Engineer
  • Fire Protection Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Metallurgical Engineer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Quality Engineer
  • Safety Engineer
  • Soils (Gotechnical) Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Traffic Engineer

 

 

 

 

 

To obtain any of these licenses, there are specific education, experience, expertise, examination and professional peer recommendation requirements that are reviewed and approved (or rejected) by technical peers before the license is granted.

The following pages try to help you understand the differences amount the engineer types so you make better expert selections at the beginning of your loss investigation.  At the end, website addresses are provided so you can check an engineering expert for proper licensure.

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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.

A phase-out of environmentally damaging chemicals means that most refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners may soon be using flammable refrigerants.

BY JESSE ROMAN

 

Like a suitor spurned over and over in love, the refrigeration and air conditioning industries can’t seem to find a good partner. While the mechanics of these indispensible technologies have been stable for decades, the substances that circulate through them absorbing heat and cooling the air—aptly named refrigerants—keep finding ways to foul things up.

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Legislative Update: April 5, 2010

The California Legislative session is now in full swing. Many bills have been introduced on numerous topics by nearly every Sate Senator and Assembly Member.

On February 18, 2010, a bill was introduced bill by Assembly Member Nathan Fletcher, AB 2276, that calls for making Arson registration information in accordance with PC 457.1 now available to Fire Chiefs of local fire departments and Fire Districts.

During the CCAI Board of Directors meeting on March 21, 2010, the Board unanimously voted to support this piece of legislation. A letter of support has been sent to Assembly Member Fletcher. A summary of the bill follows:

"LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 2276, as introduced, Fletcher. Arson.

Existing law requires a convicted arsonist, as specified, to register with certain local officials in the area in which he or she resides, and makes it a misdemeanor to fail to register. Existing law also requires the registering law enforcement agency to forward certain information about the person to the Department of Justice, including a signed statement, and the person's fingerprints and photograph. Under existing law, those statements, photographs, and fingerprints are not open to inspection by the public or by any person other than a regularly employed peace officer or other law enforcement officer. This bill would require the Department of Justice to make all of these statements, photographs, and fingerprints available to all chief fire officials of legally organized fire departments or fire protection districts in the state."

Review of the 2009 Legislative Session:

At the CCAI Board of Directors Meeting in March 2009, the Board voted to support the following five proposed bills in the 2009 legislative session. A brief status of the bills CCAI supported is listed below:

Assembly Bill #27 – 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 would extend the repeal date for the provisions relating to property damage until January 1, 2014. Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.

Assembly Bill #1385 – This bill would expand the definition of Peace Officer to include peace officers defined in PC 830.37 for the purposes of using an emergency vehicle that will allow the use of a steady or flashing blue warning light visible from the front, sides, or rear of the vehicle. Passed by the State Assembly on September 9, 2009 and vetoed by the Governor on October 11, 2009

Assembly Bill #388 – This bill would require, subject to exceptions, that vendors of firefighting uniforms verify that a person purchasing a uniform identifying a firefighting agency is an employee of the agency identified on the uniform. Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.

Assembly Bill #937 - This bill would impose registration requirements parallel to those applicable in arson cases on violators of certain laws regulating the possession and use of destructive devices. On May 28, 2009, this bill was held under submission in committee.

Senate Bill #169 – This bill would authorize the head of a local agency that employs peace officers to issue identification in the form of a badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing that clearly states the person's position as an honorably retired peace officer from that agency, as specified. The bill would also authorize the head of a local agency to revoke identification granted pursuant to those provisions in the event of misuse or abuse. Approved by the Governor on October 11, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on October 11, 2009.

Also in March of 2009, The CCAI Board of Directors agreed to urge Senator Ron Calderon, author of SB 839, to propose legislation that would make the possession of an agricultural and wildlife firework unlawful without first securing a permit from the State Fire Marshal. Additionally, we agreed to urge Senator Calderon to include language making it unlawful to possess with the intent to use, or intend to use, the same type of firework contrary to its intended use. This language was in the original text of SB 839 that went into law on January 1, 2008 but was omitted prior to passage. A letter to this effect was sent to Senator Calderon in March of 2009.

The bills listed below were introduced during the latter part of 2008 and the first part of 2009. The following is a summary of the status of those bills. To find daily updates on any piece of pending California legislation go to: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/

Assembly Bill #27

Introduced by Assembly Member Jefferies

December 1, 2008

Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.

The following is from www.leginfo.gov:

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

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

Assembly Bill #937

Introduced by Assembly Member Smyth

February 26, 2009

On May 28, 2009, this was bill held under submission in committee.

The following is from www.leginfo.gov:

An act to add Section 12314 to the Penal Code, relating to

destructive devices.

AB 937, as introduced, Smyth. Destructive devices: registration. Existing law requires that violators of specified arson laws register their names, addresses, and other specified information with the police or sheriff in the jurisdiction where they are residing or are located, within specified time limits, and with certain conditions. Additionally, these violators must register with the campus police chief of any public college or university where they reside or are located. Failure to register is a misdemeanor. Under existing law, certain administrative duties are imposed on county probation departments and the Department of Justice relating to the collection and dissemination of information from registrants. Existing law defines various crimes relating to the possession and use of destructive devices. This bill would impose registration requirements parallel to those applicable in arson cases on violators of certain laws regulating the possession and use of destructive devices, as specified. Parallel obligations would be imposed on public agencies relating to the collection and dissemination of information from registrants. By creating a new crime and requiring county officers to undertake additional duties, this bill would impose state-mandated local programs. 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 with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.

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/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0901-0950/ab_937_bill_20090226_introduced.pdf

Assembly Bill #1385

Introduced by Assembly Member Miller

February 27, 2009

Passed by the State Assembly on September 9, 2009 and vetoed by the Governor on October 11, 2009

The following is from www.leginfo.gov

An act to amend Section 25258 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

AB 1385, as amended, Miller. Arson Vehicles: authorized emergency

vehicles: blue warning lights. Existing law allows an authorized emergency vehicle used by a peace officer, as defined, in the performance of his or her duties to display a steady or flashing blue warning light visible from the front, sides, or rear of the vehicle. This bill would expand the definition of peace officer for purposes of that provision to include certain members of an arson investigating unit, members of a fire department or fire protection agency, voluntary fire wardens as designated by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection, and firefighters/security guards designated by the Military Department. A full description of this bill is at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_1351-1400/ab_1385_bill_20090331_amended_asm_v98.pdf

Senate Bill #169

Introduced by Senator Benoit

February 14, 2009

Approved by the Governor on October 11, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on October 11, 2009.

The following is from www.leginfo.gov

An act to amend Section 538d of the Penal Code, relating to crime.

SB 169, as introduced, Benoit. Peace officers: impersonation. Existing law makes it a crime for a person, who is not a peace officer, to impersonate a peace officer, as specified. This bill would authorize the head of a local agency that employs peace officers to issue identification in the form of a badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing that clearly states the person's position as an honorably retired peace officer from that agency, as specified. The bill would also authorize the head of a local agency to revoke identification granted pursuant to those provisions in the event of misuse or abuse. A full description of this bill is at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0151-0200/sb_169_bill_20090214_introduced.pdf

Assembly Bill 388

Introduced by Assembly Member Miller

February 23, 2009

Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.

The following is from www.leginfo.gov

An act to amend Section 538e of the Penal Code, relating to firefighting uniforms.

AB 388, as amended, Miller. Firefighting uniforms. Existing law provides that any person, other than an officer or member of a fire department, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the authorized uniform of an officer or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal, with the intent of fraudulently impersonating an officer or member of a fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is an officer or

member of a fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill would require, subject to exceptions, that vendors of firefighting uniforms verify that a person purchasing a uniform identifying a firefighting agency or department is an employee or authorized member of the agency or department identified on the uniform, as specified. The bill would provide that violation of these provisions would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. A full description of this bill is at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0351-0400/ab_388_bill_20090326_amended_asm_v98.pdf

Assembly Bill #625

Introduced by Assembly Member Lieu

February 25, 2009

Passed the State Assembly on May 18, 2009, passed the Senate on August 27, 2009, and vetoed by the Governor on October 11, 2009.

The following is from www.leginfo.gov

An act to amend Section 14941 of, and to add Section 14944 to, the

Health and Safety Code, relating to cigarette lighters.

AB 625, as amended, Lieu. Novelty lighters. Existing law requires the State Fire Marshal to specify standards for the design of cigarette lighters. Existing law prohibits a person from selling, offering for sale, or distributing a cigarette lighter that does not comply with those standards. A violation of these provisions is an infraction. This bill would, in addition, prohibit a person, including a manufacturer, distributor, importer, or retailer, from selling, offering for sale, distributing, or offering for promotion an operable novelty lighter. The bill would define a novelty lighter as a mechanical or electrical device, operating on any type of fuel, that is typically used for lighting cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and that (1) is designed to appear to be a toy, (2) has entertaining audio or visual effects, or (3) resembles

in physical form or function articles commonly recognized as appealing to, or intended for use by, persons under 18 12 years of age. The bill would exempt from these provisions a device that is (1) manufactured before January 1, 1980, (2) incapable of being fueled or lacking a means of combustion, (3) used primarily to ignite fuel for fireplaces or grills, or (4) printed or decorated with logos, labels, decals, artwork, or heat shrinkable sleeves. A violation of this prohibition would be an infraction. A full description of the bill is at:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_06010650/ab_625_bill_20090415_amended_asm_v98.pdf

HR 549 – National Bombing Prevention Act of 2009

Introduced by Representative Peter T. King

January 15, 2009

On February 3, 2009, this bill passed in the House of Representatives by a voice and was sent to the Senate. On February 4, 2009, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. There has been no activity on the bill since that time.

The following is from the Library of Congress - Thomas

"SUMMARY AS OF:
1/15/2009--Introduced.

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."A full description of this bill is at:http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi bin/bdquery/D?d111:9:./temp/~bdhynk::|/bss/|

HR 1727 – Matching Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act of 2009

Introduced by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and Congressman Adam Schiff

March 26, 2009

On September 30, 2009, this bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote and was sent to the Senate. On October 1, 2009, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. There has been no action on the bill since that time.

The following is from www.opencongress.com

3/26/2009--Introduced.
Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act of 2009 - Requires jurisdictions (i.e., states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and possessions, and federally recognized Indian tribes) to establish and maintain jurisdiction-wide criminal arsonist and bomber registries and make such registries available on the Internet. Requires a criminal arsonist or bomber to register in each jurisdiction in which such arsonist or bomber resides, is an employee, or is a student. Sets forth other registration requirements and the information required to be provided in a registry by the criminal arsonist or bomber and jurisdictions. Allows jurisdictions to exempt from disclosure certain information about an arsonist or bomber, including the arsonist's or bomber's employer and enrollment at an educational institution. Requires the Attorney General to maintain a national database at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) (to be known as the National Criminal Arsonist and Criminal Bomber Registry) and a national arsonist and bomber Internet site containing information on each criminal arsonist or bomber registered in a jurisdiction's registry or listed on a jurisdiction's Internet site, respectively. Directs the Attorney General to establish and implement a Criminal Arsonist and Bomber Management Assistance program for awarding grants to jurisdictions to offset the costs of implementing this Act.

More information on this bill is at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-1727

Additional information is available on the Website of Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack at: http://bono.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=143896

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