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.”
The branch of science called thermodynamics deals with systems that are able to transfer thermal energy into at least one other form of energy (mechanical, electrical, etc.) or into work. The laws of thermodynamics were developed over the years as some of the most fundamental rules which are followed when a thermodynamic system goes through some sort of energy change.
HISTORY OF THERMODYNAMICS
The history of thermodynamics begins with Otto von Guericke who, in 1650, built the world's first vacuum pump and demonstrated a vacuum using his Magdeburg hemispheres.
Guericke was driven to make a vacuum to disprove Aristotle's long-held supposition that 'nature abhors a vacuum'. Shortly after Guericke, the English physicist and chemist Robert Boyle had learned of Guericke's designs and, in 1656, in coordination with English scientist Robert Hooke, built an air pump. Using this pump, Boyle and Hooke noticed a correlation between pressure, temperature and volume. In time, Boyle's Law was formulated, which states that pressure and volume are inversely proportional.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS
The laws of thermodynamics tend to be fairly easy to state and understand ... so much so that it's easy to underestimate the impact they have. Among other things, they put constraints on how energy can be used in the universe. It would be very hard to over-emphasize how significant this concept is. The consequences of the laws of thermodynamics touch on almost every aspect of scientific inquiry in some way.
A publication of The Italian Association of Chemical Engineering Online at www.aidic.it/cet
The evolution of fires in confined space such as chemical and pharmaceutical warehouses is characterized by the complex interaction between the combustion process, the enclosure and occupants, which has to be managed when coping with fire emergency and, more in general, for fire safety. This paper proposes a quick, decision-making tool based on adversity scenarios and more specifically through the definition of four main elements: i) the potential fire spread categories, which describe the potential paths and extents of fire propagation; ii) the thermal load expressed as hot gas layer temperature; iii) the available safe egress time (ASET) for people to leave the enclosure, which is essential for organizing people evacuation; and iv) other specific hazards. The proposed tool can be usefully adopted to improve the level of information to interested stakeholders (building owner, fire service, etc.) concerning both the fire hazard and the building fire performance. 1. Introduction Fires constitute one of the most important hazards from chemical and pharmaceutical warehouses. They can give rise to serious damage to people as well as to the environment and they can cause extensive economical losses. For these reasons, in order to assist the management to identify the most suitable countermeasures (both organizational and technical), it is useful to have a tool that allows identifying in advance the potential adverse situations that could characterize the analysed system. In the present work, two indicators describe the potential fire-induced adverse situations, the first is a qualitative description of the potential fire, and the second is a quantitative evaluation of the thermal load on sensible targets, based on Hot Gas Layer Temperature (HGLT). The assessment process is based on the inspection of the workplace (Dusso et al., 2015): the workplace is divided into cells, i.e. single rooms or enclosures, or in more in general, subsections of the same workplace separated from those adjacent by physical elements as walls or floors and - in the open - barriers or separation distances. Then, important information regarding the characteristics of the stored materials, the storage conditions and the features of the enclosure such as floor area, ceiling height, openings should be collected.
Successful Litigation Relies on Proper Analysis
by Roman Kickirillo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI, Donan Engineering Company, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee
The investigation into the cause and origin of motor vehicle fires should be considered a separate field of study than structure fires. Although the basic Fire Science remains the same, there are important differences in the interpretation and analysis of fire patterns and other evidence. An understanding of these differences before litigation begins can avoid lost time and expenses later in the process. There are very few absolute rules in vehicle fire investigations, but one always holds true: If your expert’s analysis is incorrect, the opposing side will be more than happy to let you know about it - at the worst possible time.
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
Study by: Albert Simeoni, Zachary C. Owens, Erik W. Christiansen, Abid KemalExponent, Inc. USAMichael Gallagher, Kenneth L. Clark, Nicholas SkowronskiNorthern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, USAEric V. Mueller, Jan C. Thomas, Simon Santamaria, Rory M. HaddenSchool of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, UK
Two experimental fires, with contrasting intensities, were conducted in March 2016, in the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) of New Jersey, United States in order to provide a preliminary assessment of the reliability of the fire direction indicators used in wildland fire investigation. The experiments were part of a larger project intended to measure firebrand production in a forested ecosystem. As part of this project, fire behavior, as well as the environmental and fuel conditions were also measured. Two burn parcels, covering an area of approximately 30 hectares each, were ignited from unimproved forest roads which delimited them. The forest canopy was comprised primarily of pitch pine with intermittent oaks. The understory contained a mixed shrub layer of huckleberry, blueberry, and scrub oaks. In order to explore a wide range of indicators, objects such as bottles, cans and small fence elements were planted in the burn area, and photographed before and after the fire. To obtain an accurate measure of pre- and post-fire fuel properties, fuel load, fuel bulk density, and fuel moisture content were also measured. In addition, environmental data (wind velocity and direction, air temperature and humidity) were recorded. The fire behavior can be reconstructed using measurements of fire rate of spread, fire front temperatures, fire front geometry, and heat fluxes. Video and infrared cameras were used to document the general fire behavior in selected locations. This paper represents the first step in the analysis of the fire indicators and focuses on the more intense of the two burns and on the appearance of the macro- and microscale fire pattern indicators. A majority of the indicators were assessed, although the configuration of the burn parcels, the ignition technique, and precipitation immediately following the fires limited a full study. The results show that some fire direction indicators are highly dependent on local fire conditions and fire behavior and may be in contradiction with the general spread of the fire. Overall, this study demonstrates that fire pattern indicators are a useful tool but must be interpreted in the frame of a general analysis of the fire, combined with a good understanding of fire behavior and fire dynamics.
Legislation and Public Information
Tom Pierce, Committee Chair
Below you will find several pieces of legislation relating to fire, arson, and explosion investigation in California and on a national level. To find daily updates on any piece of pending California legislation go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov
Beginning in January, over 800 new laws will become effective in California. Several of these laws may, or may not affect CCAI membership. Several of these new laws address public law enforcement and firefighting. I have selected those which appear to impact public sector fire investigation and law enforcement. One new law is relative to private sector investigators.
I suggest members read these laws, especially AB 2055.
Assembly Bill 1720 was signed into law by Governor Brown. As enacted, this Bill amends Section 415.21, Code of Civil Procedures, as to allow Private Investigators access into gated communities. The intent of this law specifically addresses process service. Investigations are excluded.
Assembly Bill 2055, as signed by the Governor, amends Section 1524 and 1525 of the Penal Code. The intent of this new law requires issuance of a Search Warrant whenever a tracking device is utilized. I believe this law has the most profound impact on our membership. (This should not come as a surprise).
Two of laws for those agencies with wildland responsibilities. Assembly Bill 2284 adds Section 12025 to the Fish & Game Code and amends Section 2810 of the Vehicle Code. While enforcement language is specific, this law allows for law enforcement intervention whenever irrigation materials are observed in a vehicle on forest roads. CCAI members employed by CalFire, L.A. County Fire or the USFS should review this law to determine enforcement authority.
Senate Bill 1367 amends Section 4370 of the Fish & Game Code. This new law allows for an archery hunter who has a valid CCW, to carry a weapon while hunting. Those CCAI members who validate deer tags should be aware of this new law.
While hundreds of new laws have been enacted, the aforementioned seem to have significance with regards to our members.
On February 18, 2010, a bill was introduced by Assembly Member Nathan Fletcher, AB 2276, which called for making Arson registration information in accordance with PC 457.1 available to Fire Chiefs of local fire departments and Fire Districts. The official summary of the bill is from the Legislative Counsel’s Digest.
“LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AB 2276, as introduced, Fletcher. Arson.
Existing law requires a convicted arsonist, as specified, to register with certain local officials in the area in which he or she resides, and makes it a misdemeanor to fail to register. Existing law also requires the registering law enforcement agency to forward certain information about the person to the Department of Justice, including a signed statement, and the person's fingerprints and photograph. Under existing law, those statements, photographs, and fingerprints are not open to inspection by the public or by any person other than a regularly employed peace officer or other law enforcement officer. This bill would require the Department of Justice to make all of these statements, photographs, and fingerprints available to all chief fire officials of legally organized fire departments or fire protection districts in the state.”
During the CCAI Board of Directors meeting on March 21, 2010, the Board unanimously voted to support this piece of legislation. A letter of support was sent to Assembly Member Fletcher.
In the committee review process, Assembly Member Fletcher provided the following information in an analysis prepared by Melina Nelson of the Committee on Public Safety submitted on April 6, 2010:
“1)Author’s Statement: According to the author, "When registering with local authorities, arsonists' information is ONLY given to the law enforcement and fire agencies overseeing where the arsonist resides.”
“In many parts of California borders of multiple counties and cities are within a very small geographic area. People move freely from county to county on a regular basis falling under the jurisdiction of multiple law enforcement and fire agencies. It is necessary for law enforcement and fire agencies to have access to this information in order to prevent possible re-offense by registered arsonists. County and city lines do not stop arsonists from starting fires beyond their area of residence. AB 2276 will give these authorities the ability to keep track of arsonists who are potential threats in their area even if the arsonist does not reside within that jurisdiction."
“2)Background: According to background information provided by the author, The 2009 Station Fire which burned over 160,000 acres or 250 square miles, burned for over 50 days, destroyed over 200 structures and killed two firefighters is one example of the hundreds of fires started each year by arsonist in California. The Station Fire cost the state over $30 million, and is expected to carry a price tag of over $40 million in clean up.”
"In 2009 California had over 5,000 fires throughout the state. In Cal Fire regulated area alone on average 323 fires were started by arsonists each year.”
"California's Arson Registry: In 1985, California established an arson registry in which all convicted arsonist must register with certain local official in the area in which the arsonist resides. An adult arsonist must register for life, while youth are removed at 25 or when their records are sealed. As of September 2009 3,700 people around the state were on the registry.”
"When registering with local authorities, arsonists' information is given to the law enforcement and fire agencies overseeing where the arsonist resides. DOJ is sent all information throughout the state and places for the California's Arson Registry.”
"Problem: In many parts of California, borders of multiple counties and cities are within a very small geographic area. People move freely from county to county on a regular basis falling under the jurisdiction of multiple buy xanax online enforcement and fire agencies.”
"It is necessary for law enforcement and fire agencies to have access to this information in order to prevent possible re-offense by registered arsonists. County and city lines do not stop arsonists from starting fires beyond their area of residence. AB 2276 will give these authorities the ability to keep track of arsonists who are potential threats in their area even if the arsonist does click here reside within that jurisdiction."
“3)Chief Fire Officials Should Have Access to the Arson Registry: In investigating possible incidences of arson, the chief fire official is an essential part of the investigation. The information included in the arson registry, including a picture of the registered individual, and his or her fingerprint and location, will likely prove to be a valuable tool to chief fire officials in these investigations. Additionally, because the information in the registry is already collected and accessible to law enforcement officers, there is very little additional cost.”
In an analysis prepared by Geoff Long of the House Appropriations Committee submitted on April 21, 2010, several points and concerns were raised in the report.
1) As the bill does not clearly define "chief fire officials," or specify the method of providing this information, the costs of this measure could range from minor local costs to establish electronic case-by-case request protocols, to several million dollars in nonreimbursable local costs to support provide dedicated data lines for local fire officials. (Currently law enforcement accesses the information via a secure law enforcement website, which includes access to the state sex offender registry.)
2) One-time costs in the range of $150,000 (GF) to DOJ to establish system protocols.
1) Rationale. The author contends providing arson registry information to firefighters in addition to law visit us officers would enhance arson prevention efforts.
2) Current law requires any person convicted of arson or attempted arson, as specified, to register with the local chief of police or sheriff. Registration is for life, unless the offender was a minor adjudicated as a ward of the court, in which case registration is required until age 25. Failure to register is a misdemeanor. Only peace officers may access registration information. There are about 3,700 registered arsonists.
3)Concerns. The author's office has agreed to address a series of concerns while the bill is on the Suspense File.
a) The problem addressed by this bill is not clear. How will the expansion of access to arson registry information help prevent arson? Current law provides access to this information to peace officer arson investigators of fire departments. It is not clear how or why this is not sufficient.
b) DOJ's CA Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR), formerly the Violent Crime and Information Network, (VCIN)), includes both the arson and sex offender registries, which makes providing access to non-peace officers problematic.
c) The universe of "all chief fire officials" who could access the arson registry should be clarified.
d) The method of providing information needs to be clarified, particularly as this is the cost driver.
e) The expanded access proposed by this bill should be cross-referenced in subdivision (j).”
On May 28, 2010, this bill was held under submission in the Appropriations Committee and is no longer being considered. According to Assembly Member Fletcher’s Office, a key element of this bill not moving forward was the financial impact of implementation.
Information concerning this bill, or the status of any piece of legislation introduced in either the Assembly or the Senate can be found at: www.leginfo.ca.gov
Below is a summary of recent bills supported by CCAI.
Assembly Bill #27 – This bill would increase the amount of damage required for a person to be guilty of aggravated arson from 5,650,000 to 6,500,000 and would extend the repeal date for the provisions relating to property damage until January 1, 2014. Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.
Assembly Bill #1385 – This bill would expand the definition of Peace Officer to include peace officers defined in PC 830.37 for the purposes of using an emergency vehicle that will allow the use of a steady or flashing blue warning light visible from the front, sides, or rear of the vehicle. Passed by the State Assembly on September 9, 2009 and vetoed by the Governor on October 11, 2009
Assembly Bill #388 – This bill would require, subject to exceptions, that vendors of firefighting uniforms verify that a person purchasing a uniform identifying a firefighting agency is an employee of the agency identified on the uniform. Approved by the Governor on August 5, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on August 6, 2009.
Assembly Bill #937 - This bill would impose registration requirements parallel to those applicable in arson cases on violators of certain laws regulating the possession and use of destructive devices. On May 28, 2009, this bill was held under submission in committee.
Senate Bill #169 – This bill would authorize the head of a local agency that employs peace officers to issue identification in the form of a badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing that clearly states the person’s position as an honorably retired peace officer from that agency, as specified. The bill would also authorize the head of a local agency to revoke identification granted pursuant to those provisions in the event of misuse or abuse. Approved by the Governor on October 11, 2009 and filed with the Secretary of State on October 11, 2009.
In March of 2009, The CCAI Board of Directors agreed to urge Senator Ron Calderon, author of SB 839 to propose legislation that would make the possession of an agricultural and wildlife firework unlawful without first securing a permit from the State Fire Marshal. Additionally, we agreed to urge Senator Calderon to include language making it unlawful to possess with the intent to use, or intend to use, the same type of firework contrary to its intended use. This language was in the original text of SB 839 that went into law on January 1, 2008 but was omitted prior to passage. A letter to this effect was sent to Senator Calderon in March of 2009.
The California Legislative session is now in full swing. Many bills have been introduced on numerous topics by nearly every Sate Senator and Assembly Member.
On February 18, 2010, a bill was introduced bill by Assembly Member Nathan Fletcher, AB 2276, that calls for making Arson registration information in accordance with PC 457.1 now available to Fire Chiefs of local fire departments and Fire Districts.
During the CCAI Board of Directors meeting on March 21, 2010, the Board unanimously voted to support this piece of legislation. A letter of support has been sent to Assembly Member Fletcher. A summary of the bill follows:
The 2009 California Legislative session is in full swing with numerous pending bills up for consideration. As these bills move through the committee process, they may be amended or revised many times. In some cases, the final version of the bill may exclude some of the main points of the original proposal in order to secure passage.
At the recent CCAI Board of Directors Meeting in March 2009, the Board voted to support the following pieces of pending legislation:.
Introduced by Assembly Member Jefferies
December 1, 2008
The following is from
"An act to amend Section 451.5 of the Penal Code."
Introduced by Assembly Member Smyth
February 26, 2009
An act to add Section 12314 to the Penal Code, relating to destructive devices.
Introduced by Assembly Member Miller
February 27, 2009
An act to amend Section 25258 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles
Introduced by Senator Benoit
February 14, 2009
"An act to amend Section 538d of the Penal Code, relating to crime."
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