The following is a response by a CCAI member regarding the Electrolux Dryer Fire article that was posted on July 8, 2014.
I appeared in Federal Court in San Diego this year as the plaintiff’s witness in a subrogation case against Electrolux dryers. The fire occurred in Fallbrook, CA 2008. It involved a two story single family residence with the washer and dryer located on the second floor. I was called to the scene to investigate the fire.
When I arrived, the Electrolux dryer was in the front yard and the top had been opened by the fire department. I did my usual exterior and interior inspection and arrived at the laundry room. The fire was confined to envelopment of the laundry room; with smoke damage extending out the laundry room door.
I inspected the room for all signs of ignition and found none. I looked at the dryer exhaust. I interview the insured and proceeded to the front lawn to inspect the dryer.
The dryer had very defined plum and burn patterns indicating the area of the fire’s origin within the dryer. The Electrolux dryer cannot be accessed from the rear and therefore I did not remove any interior parts. I took all necessary photographs.
The adjuster was on hand, and we discussed removal and storage of the dryer. The adjuster said he would take charge of the dryer and make arrangements for storage.
When I was in trial, the defense attacked me, because I did not take photographs of the dryer exhaust on the side of the residence, second story. Further, I did not photograph the interior of the exhaust line to see if it was plugged with lint. I testified that the dryer exhaust opening, within the laundry room, appeared to be clear. I testified that the dryer was the area of origin, and something within the dryer was the ignition source. Not good enough.
The defense’s position was that the insured did not call a professional and have the lint removed; the dryer would need to be dissembled. They also contended that the exhaust line may have been plugged with lint and thus lint backed up within the dryer further adding fuel and ultimately igniting. The jury did not find enough evidence to suggest a design flaw with the dryer and therefore ruled in favor of Electrolux.
The trial I was in marks the fifth trial that Electrolux has won. They claim the design of the dryer does not cause fires. I strongly suggest that if anyone is investigating a dryer fire and especially Electrolux, be prepared to run a camera snake the full length of the exhaust line and take as much of the exhaust line as possible to be preserved as evidence along with the dryer. In this case, I could not have taken the exhaust line without tearing into the wall. However, even though the Electrolux dryer was the ignition source, the jury believed that Electrolux was not liable for the fire.
See Electrolux article here
Recall Date: July 10, 2014 Recall Number: 14-228
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
Name of Product: Power adaptor/chargers (promotional giveaway)
Hazard: The adaptors can overheat, posing a burn hazard.
Read full recall report at CPSC
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.
U.S. Fire Administration
Electricity is a basic part of residential life in the U.S. It provides the energy for most powered items in a contemporary home, from lights to heating systems to television. Today it is hard to imagine a residence without electricity. It a part of our homes and our activities that most of us take for granted. We rarely think how powerful electricity is.
Yet, using electricity can have dangerous consequences. Electrical fires occur frequently throughout the U.S., causing injury, claiming lives, and resulting in large losses of property. From 2009 to 2011, an estimated 25,900 residential building electrical fires were reported by U.S. fire departments annually.
Electrolux dryers are dangerously vulnerable to catching fire, according to complaints, consumer reports, and recent lawsuits. Allegedly, some electric and gas models of Electrolux dryers contain a defect that allows lint to build up in areas unserviceable to owners and close to a heat source, posing a heightened risk of fire. At least one previous lawsuit also points to a possible bearing failure that causes the drum to move and make contact with the rear heating element, creating sparks which may light lint and other flammable objects.
The California Conference of Arson Investigators has patterned its CFI certification program after the State of California’s certification program with two major differences: 1) The CCAI – CFI program requires the applicant must stand for a written exam and 2) the CCAI-CFI certification requires participation in continued professional training. To keep the certificate valid, a CCAI Certified Fire Investigator must attend 30 hours of approved tested training, or 40 hours of CCAI approved non-tested training or a combination of 40 hours tested and non-tested training every three years, from the date his or her certificate was issued. The hourly training requirement can easily be met by attending two 20-hour CCAI training seminar’s within the three-year period.
To apply, a person does not have to be a member of CCAI; however it is strongly encouraged that everyone in the field of fire investigation belongs to the California Conference of Arson Investigators, the leading organization for training in fire and arson investigations in California.
To qualify, applicants must submit certificates of training showing that they have completed Fire Investigation 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and PC 832 or its equivalent. If you already possess a Level II Fire Investigation Certification from the State of California, a copy of your certification certificate showing Level II will suffice to validate that you have met the training requirements mentioned above.
Applicants must also validate that they have had the overall responsibility of, and have investigated, 150 fires to determine fire origin and separately to determine fire cause. They must also substantiate that they have testified twice, in court or in deposition (not in the same case), under oath, pertaining to the origin and cause of fires or in the field of explosions. The testimony can be criminal, civil or from deposition but must be directly related to fire origin and fire cause or origin and cause in an explosion incident. In lieu of actual court related testimony, the applicant may complete any one of the below listed courses.
The following courses/classes will meet or substitute for the criteria of the court room requirements:
The question has risen, “If an investigator possesses a California State Fire Investigator II Certification, why would he/she have to verify again that he/she has investigated 150 fires and testified twice in court?” It is the CCAI Board of Directors’ position that, if CCAI is going to certify an investigator, the person’s qualifications must be independently validated by CCAI using documents and under oath statements.
The initial application fee, if you are a CCAI member, is $150.00 and the certification is validated for three years. Renewal of the CCAI-CFI certification, if you are a CCAI member, is $75.00 every three years. If you are not a member of CCAI, the initial application fee is $300.00 and renewal is $150.00 every three years.
Verification of Testimony
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