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Abstract

Free-burning experimental fires were conducted in a wind tunnel to explore the role of ignition type and thus fire spread mode on the resulting emissions profile from combustion of fine (< 6 mm in diameter) Eucalyptus litter fuels. Fires were burnt spreading with the wind (heading fire), perpendicular to the wind (flanking fire) and against the wind (backing fire). Greenhouse gas compounds (i.e. CO2, CH4 and N2O) and CO were quantified using off-axis integratedcavity-output spectroscopy. Emissions factors calculated using a carbon mass balance technique (along with statistical testing) showed that most of the carbon was emitted as CO2, with heading fires emitting 17 % more CO2 than flanking and 9.5 % more CO2 than backing fires, and about twice as much CO as flanking and backing fires. Heading fires had less than half as much carbon remaining in combustion residues. Statistically significant differences in CH4 and N2O emissions factors were not found with respect to fire spread mode. Emissions factors calculated per unit of dry fuel consumed showed that combustion phase (i.e. flaming or smouldering) had a statistically significant impact, with CO and N2O emissions increasing during smouldering combustion and CO2 emissions decreasing. Findings on the equivalence of different emissions factor reporting methods are discussed along with the impact of our results for emissions accounting and potential sampling biases associated with our work. The primary implication of this study is that prescribed fire practices could be modified to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from forests by judicial use of ignition methods to induce flanking and backing fires over heading fires.

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INTRODUCTION This report describes new full-scale compartment fire experiments, which include local measurements of temperature, heat flux and species composition, and global measurements of heat release rate and mass burning rate. 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 full scale ISO 9705 room [1]. Fire protection engineers, fire researchers, regulatory authorities, fire service and law enforcement personnel use fire models (such as the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator, FDS[2]) for design and analysis of fire safety features in buildings and for post-fire reconstruction and forensic applications. Fire field models have historically showed limited ability to accurately and reliably predict the thermal conditions and chemical species in underventilated compartment fires. Formal validation efforts have shown that for well ventilated compartment fires, with the exception perhaps of soot, field models do quite well in predicting temperature and species when experimental uncertainty is accounted for. Inaccurate predictions of incomplete burning and soot levels impact calculations of radiative heat transfer, burning rates, and estimates of human tenability. High-quality (relatively low, quantified uncertainty) measurements of fire gas species, temperature, and soot from the interior of underventilated compartment fires are needed to guide the development and validation of improved fire field models.

Introduction

This report describes new full-scale compartment fire experiments, which include localmeasurements of temperature, heat flux and species composition, and global measurements ofheat release rate and mass burning rate. The measurements are unique to the compartment fireliterature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive and quantitative assessment ofmajor and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at two locations in the upper layer offire in a full scale ISO 9705 room [1].

Fire protection engineers, fire researchers, regulatory authorities, fire service and lawenforcement personnel use fire models (such as the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator, FDS[2]) fordesign and analysis of fire safety features in buildings and for post-fire reconstruction andforensic applications. Fire field models have historically showed limited ability to accuratelyand reliably predict the thermal conditions and chemical species in underventilated compartmentfires. Formal validation efforts have shown that for well ventilated compartment fires, with theexception perhaps of soot, field models do quite well in predicting temperature and species whenexperimental uncertainty is accounted for. Inaccurate predictions of incomplete burning and sootlevels impact calculations of radiative heat transfer, burning rates, and estimates of humantenability. High-quality (relatively low, quantified uncertainty) measurements of fire gasspecies, temperature, and soot from the interior of underventilated compartment fires are neededto guide the development and validation of improved fire field models.

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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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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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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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Practical Approaches for Recouping Good Faith Payments

Larry-Arnold-article

by: Larry Arnold

Faced with growing losses, insurance companies are focusing on fraud management and implementing risk mitigation controls, while at the same time remaining cognizant of their duty of good faith to policyholders.  So what happens when an insurer makes good faith payments on legitimate elements of an insurance claim but subsequently uncovers fraud in other elements of the claim?  Is the insurer entitled to recover all monies paid as part of the claim?  Or only the amount paid in reliance on the insured's misrepresentations?

Previously, there was no clear answer.  It was safe to assume that an insurer could recover monies paid on a claim under the right circumstances – the difficulty occurred when trying to recover payments made prior to the established fraud date.  For example, in California, the insurance code states, “If a representation is false in a material point, whether affirmative or promissory, the injured party is entitled to rescind the contract from the time the representation becomes false.”

Recent trial court rulings in favor of insurance companies, however, are changing the claims landscape.  These rulings will impact the way insurance companies handle genuine claims that are subsequently tainted by fraud, encouraging them to be proactive in recouping good faith payments.

Steps for Recouping

What options do insurance companies have to recoup these payments?  There are several avenues available.

Deny the Claim. When the SIU has completed a claims investigation and determined that an insured has breached the policy by materially misrepresenting facts, the claim can be denied – even the legitimate part.  Appropriate cases should be referred to law enforcement for prosecution.  In addition, the insured has a duty to present and prove the merits of the claim.  Failure to cooperate with insurance company representatives can independently result in denial of the claim.  This includes an examination under oath (EUO), which plays a key role in obtaining information.  Typically, the named insured (or others, as dictated by the policy) is required to submit to an EUO as a precondition for claims settlement.  Failure to do so can result in denial of the claim.

Void the Policy. An insurer may void or cancel its policy in the event of material misrepresentation or concealment of facts by the insured.  This includes fraudulent claims.

Litigation. If a policy is voided for fraudulent claims, insurers must then decide whether to sue the insured to recoup payments - even legitimate ones.  One advantage with litigation is that it allows for pretrial discovery process, including depositions and the ability to subpoena documents previously unavailable during the claims process.

A Case in Point

A recent case illustrates that insurance companies are entitled to recoup good faith payments when fraud is uncovered.  Here is some background on the case.

An insurer issued a fire insurance policy to the owner of a dry cleaning business located in Southern California.  A fire destroyed the business, so the owner submitted claims for replacement equipment, debris removal, damage to customer goods and loss of business income.  Based on these claims, the insurance company paid the owner $527,000.

However, during the insurance company’s investigation of additional claims, a forensic accountant uncovered inconsistencies in a laundry services contract submitted as part of the owner’s claim for loss of business income.  As a result, the owner was asked to sit for an EUO.  The owner declined and withdrew his pending claim.  The insurer then declined the claim, rescinded the policy and sued the business owner to recoup all loss payments.

At trial, evidence and witness testimony was presented that showed the owner had falsified the laundry contract and also inflated amounts paid for replacement equipment, debris removal, and payroll, among other items. Attorneys argued that the insurer was entitled to full recovery (payments made before the fraud occurred) for several novel reasons, including:

  • The outcome in Perovich v. Glen Falls Insurance Co. (9th Cir. 1968), where the court ruled that an insurer “may recover money paid in reasonable reliance on its insured’s fraudulent claim.”  The court held that the insurer was entitled to recover the full payment made under the policy.
  • Compelling the insured to return only a portion of the money would circumvent the purpose of the fraud statutes and create bad public policy.  The insured’s fear of losing even the legitimate claim payments should deter him from committing fraud.  An insured who knew he could recover the “honest” claims would be incentivized to calculate the risk of getting caught into his claims submission, determining that some things are worth lying about.

Though portions of the claim were legitimate, the judge ruled in favor of the insurer and its decision to rescind the fire insurance policy.  The insured was ordered to repay $452,064, which represented all payments less monies paid to customers who lost clothing in the fire and the policy premium.

Implications for Insurers

This decision is important as it reinforces the rights of insurance companies not only to decline a claim when fraud is uncovered but also to rescind a policy and sue the insured to collect good faith payments.  Previously, the law was not clear about what happens to monies paid as part of a legitimate claim, when fraud is discovered in a separate area.  It is now clear that fraud in part of a claim translates to fraud in the entire claim.

Claims managers should have an open discussion with claims adjusters and SIU team members, with the goal of establishing a claims review protocol that outlines what to look for and what to do if fraud is suspected.  This is critical, as claim adjusters are the first line of defense against fraud.  Once fraud is uncovered, insurance companies should not hesitate to consult with an attorney and pursue the insured in order to recover monies already paid.  In the end, both insurance companies and policyholders will benefit by reducing the high cost of fraud.

Larry M. Arnold, P.C., is a senior partner at Cummins & White, LLP.  He can be reached at (949) 852-1800, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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