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Abstract. Topography, weather, and fuels are known factors driving fire behavior, but the degree to which each contributes to the spatial pattern of fire severity under different conditions remains poorly understood. The variability in severity within the boundaries of the 2006 wildfires that burned in the Klamath Mountains, northern California, along with data on burn conditions and new analytical tools, presented an opportunity to evaluate factors influencing fire severity under burning conditions representative of those where management of wildfire for resource benefit is most likely. Fire severity was estimated as the percent change in canopy cover (0–100%) classified from the Relativized differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (RdNBR), and spatial data layers were compiled to determine strength of associations with topography, weather, and variables directly or indirectly linked to fuels, such as vegetation type, number of previous fires, and time since last fire. Detailed fire progressions were used to estimate weather (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, temperature inversions, and solar radiation) at the time of burning. A generalized additive regression model with random effects and an additional spatial term to account for autocorrelation between adjacent locations was fitted to fire severity. In this fire year characterized by the relative absence of extreme fire weather, topographical complexity most strongly influenced severity. Upper- and mid-slopes tended to burn at higher fire severity than lower-slopes. East- and southeast-facing aspects tended to burn at higher severity than other aspects. Vegetation type and fire history were also important predictors of fire severity. Shrub vegetation was more likely to burn at higher severity than mixed hardwood/conifer or hardwood vegetation. As expected, fire severity was positively associated with time since previous fire, but the relationship was non-linear. Of the weather variables analyzed, temperature inversions, common in the complex topography of the Klamath Mountains, showed the strongest association with fire severity. Inversions trapped smoke and had a dampening effect on severity within the landscape underneath the inversion. Understanding the spatial controls on mixed-severity fires allows managers to better plan for future wildfires and aide in the decision making when managing lightning ignitions for resource benefit might be appropriate.

Abstract

Topography, weather, and fuels are known factors driving fire behavior, but the degree towhich each contributes to the spatial pattern of fire severity under different conditions remains poorlyunderstood. The variability in severity within the boundaries of the 2006 wildfires that burned in theKlamath Mountains, northern California, along with data on burn conditions and new analytical tools, presentedan opportunity to evaluate factors influencing fire severity under burning conditions representativeof those where management of wildfire for resource benefit is most likely. Fire severity was estimated asthe percent change in canopy cover (0–100%) classified from the Relativized differenced Normalized BurnRatio (RdNBR), and spatial data layers were compiled to determine strength of associations with topography,weather, and variables directly or indirectly linked to fuels, such as vegetation type, number of previousfires, and time since last fire. Detailed fire progressions were used to estimate weather (e.g.,temperature, relative humidity, temperature inversions, and solar radiation) at the time of burning. A generalizedadditive regression model with random effects and an additional spatial term to account for autocorrelationbetween adjacent locations was fitted to fire severity. In this fire year characterized by therelative absence of extreme fire weather, topographical complexity most strongly influenced severity.Upper- and mid-slopes tended to burn at higher fire severity than lower-slopes. East- and southeast-facingaspects tended to burn at higher severity than other aspects. Vegetation type and fire history were alsoimportant predictors of fire severity. Shrub vegetation was more likely to burn at higher severity thanmixed hardwood/conifer or hardwood vegetation. As expected, fire severity was positively associated withtime since previous fire, but the relationship was non-linear. Of the weather variables analyzed, temperatureinversions, common in the complex topography of the Klamath Mountains, showed the strongestassociation with fire severity. Inversions trapped smoke and had a dampening effect on severity within thelandscape underneath the inversion. Understanding the spatial controls on mixed-severity fires allowsmanagers to better plan for future wildfires and aide in the decision making when managing lightningignitions for resource benefit might be appropriate.

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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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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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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 

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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Code or standard?

What's the difference between a code and a standard?
Michael Heinsdorf, PE, LEED AP, CDT, ARCOM
07/01/2015

Almost every consulting engineer works with codes and standards on a daily basis, but do you know the difference between a code and a standard?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Circular No. A-119, Revised, a standard is "[t]he definition of terms; classification of components; delineation of procedures; specification of dimensions, materials, performance, designs, or operations; measurement of quality and quantity in describing materials, processes, products, systems, services, or practices; test methods and sampling procedures; or descriptions of fit and measurements of size or strength." In plain English, a standard consists of technical definitions, procedures, and/or guidelines that specify minimum requirements or instructions for manufacturers, installers, and users of equipment. This can be done by specifying either the methods or the results; the latter is known as "performance specifying." Most importantly, a standard provides standardization or agreement within the industry, which translates to a common reference among engineers, manufacturers, and bidders.

 

In the United States, there are several types of standards, but engineers are most familiar with "voluntary consensus standards" such as ASHRAE Standard 90.1ASTM D975IEEE SI-10NECA 1, and NFPA 70. These standards are developed in a manner that is, according to NIST A-119, "open, (considers) balance of interest, (has) due process, an appeals process, (and relies on) consensus, which is defined as general agreement, but not necessarily unanimity." There are also requirements that the standard be maintained on a consistent schedule by the organization that sponsors the standard.

A code is a standard that has been enacted into law by a local, regional, or national authority having jurisdiction so that the engineer or contractor is legally obligated to comply with the code. Noncompliance can result in being prosecuted. The code may be an industry, government, or voluntary consensus-based standard. A code can include references to standards, which means the standards are incorporated by reference and therefore are part of the code and legally enforceable.

It's important to note the difference between a code and a model code such as the International Building Code (IBC). A model code is developed by a standards organization, typically using the voluntary consensus standard process and subject matter experts. The intent of a model code is to have an industry-wide standard that can be adopted and customized by local jurisdictions, thereby saving the jurisdiction the time and expense of developing and maintaining their own code. This also allows for a certain level of standardization across jurisdictions, permitting contractors to have a understanding of the Owner's expectations and potentially lowering the cost of manufactured goods due to similar requirements across jurisdictions. A model code is not enforceable until it is adopted by a jurisdiction, and typically a jurisdiction will require significant review and some modification of the code to ensure that the code is acceptable to the jurisdiction. This is often why a jurisdiction's adopted code may be several cycles behind the latest model code.

To recap, "voluntary consensus standards" are commonly used in the United States to specify what subject matter experts consider to be the minimum requirements and instructions for manufacturers and users of equipment. Codes are standards that are adopted by jurisdictions and are legally enforceable; however, model codes are not legally enforceable.


Michael Heinsdorf, PE, LEED AP, CDT is an engineering specification writer at ARCOM MasterSpec. He has more than 10 years of experience in consulting engineering, and is the lead author of MasterSpec Electrical, Communications, and Electronic Safety and Security guide specifications. He holds a BSEE from Drexel University and is currently pursuing a master's in engineering at Drexel University.

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