Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D
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.
Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D.
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.
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.
From: The Desk of Scotty Baker
To: The CCAI Training Committee
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.
Get started today
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:
Assembly Bill #937
Introduced by Assembly Member Smyth
February 26, 2009
On May 28, 2009, this was bill held under submission in committee.
An act to add Section 12314 to the Penal Code, relating to
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.
State-mandated local program: yes. A full description of this proposed bill is at:
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:
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.
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:
Assembly Bill 388
February 23, 2009
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:
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.
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:
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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