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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 

Congratulations

CCAI extends sincere congratulations to Wayne Tyson who was presented with the most prestigous "Lifetime Member" award along with a 45-year member pin from the International Association of Arson Investigators.


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IAAI - ITC 2015

IAAI President Peter Mansi welcomed everyone to the International Association of Arson Investigators 66th International Training Conference in Chicago, Illinois this past week, May 18th – 22nd.  Around 600 attendees were on hand for a great schedule of classes during the week.  Approximately 40 of those attendees were from Central America countries requiring translation throughout the week.  CCAI Director Robert Rullan gave a presentation on “CSI” as part of the training as well as assisting with the translation needs of the students.  

On opening day, CCAI’s 1st VP, Dale Feb, taught a four-hour class titled “Hearth Products Ignition Source or First Fuel Ignited”.  CCAI Member Steve Carmen taught two two-hour classes; “Math for Fire Investigators” and “Elevated Fire Origin Research”.  CCAI Member John DeHaan joined up with Instructors Chris Connealy and Kelly Kistner in presenting “Arson Convictions:  Reviewing the Science – The Texas Experience”.  Jamie and Cameron Novak were on hand to set things on fire in "Burn to Learn".  Rounding out the week was Mike Bryant teaching "Investigative Interviewing for Fire Investigations. Many other instructors joined in the training and in all, four separate tracks of education were presented throughout the weeklong conference.

CCAI President Eric Emmanuel represented the CCAI Chapter at the “Presidents Reception” on Sunday night, again during “Opening Ceremonies” on Monday Morning, at the “Chapters Presidents Luncheon” on Tuesday, during the IAAI “Annual General Meeting” on Tuesday afternoon and at the “Awards and Installation Banquet” on Tuesday night.  He was seen throughout the week engaging different individuals in conversations and promoting CCAI.

IAAI hosted a Vendor Room where approximately 30 different companies set up display booths and provided valuable information to the attendees.  A very active Spousal Program visited some of the many sights and attractions that Chicago has to offer.  Monday was spent at the Local Boutiques and Hummel Museum.  On Tuesday, the highlight of the week, they visited the Chicago Fire Academy and Fire Museum.  Wednesday and Thursday were spent exploring many of the hot spots around the “Windy City” including the Navy Pier, Sky Deck Chicago, Millennium Park and the Cloud Gate Sculpture, Art Institute Museum, Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.  The week included lunches at the Hard Rock Café, Rainforest Café, and many of Chicago’s authentic hot dog and pizza restaurants.  Before departure on Friday, the group held a farewell breakfast at the hotel.  Approximately 28 people participated in the Spousal Program.

During the IAAI “Annual General Meeting”, elections were held.  Dan Heenan (Nevada) was sworn in as President, George Codding (Colorado) was sworn in as 1st VP and Scott Bennett (Ohio) was elected as 2nd VP.  Darrell Sanders (Louisiana), William T. Moreland (Florida) and Kevin Crawford (Colorado), Chris Van Vleet (Kansas) were elected to the serve three-year terms on the IAAI Board of Directors.  Joe Sesniak (Arizona) was elected to serve a three-year term on the IAAI Foundation Board of Directors, and David Snead (Texas) was reelected as president of the Foundation.  Immediately following the election, nominations were opened for 2016.  CCAI Board Member Robert Rullan was nominated to run for a Director Position next year.

CCAI members Troy Morrison, Jim Allen, Kathryn Varner, Don Perkins, Dennis Fields, Bill Kilpatrick and his wife Debbie, Tom Fee and others made a great showing for California Chapter 22.

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