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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.


Wayne_Tyson-45yearpin-4x6

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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