Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: LP and Natural Gas

Commercial Gas-Fired Cookers Can Do More Than Burn

The first hazard that comes to mind when thinking about large scale ovens and steam kettles is burning or scalding injury. Carbon monoxide poisoning is just as dangerous but less understood, so oftentimes proper prevention methods are not followed. In the United States, this results in over 20,000 emergency room visits and over 400 deaths a year. Before we get to the case study and poisoning prevention methods, we need to know what CO is, where it comes from, and why it is poisonous. Read More

Fig-1-Chem-E-Intro

Chemical Engineers: More than Glorified Plumbers – Really!

As a senior at Virginia Tech, I was told that ChemE’s were little more than glorified plumbers.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was to keep our geek-egos in check. It was an effective tool! However, as I grew and traveled as a professional, it became an effective descriptor; applying to a larger scale and using a modifier or two for specific applications.  So, if you have a loss that falls into one of the categories below, a ChemE could be the expert you need. Read More

In new water heaters, the combustion air holes have been replaced with a flame arrestor that lets vapors in but will not let the ignited vapors flash back to the pool of flammable vapors.

Preventing Fugitive Vapor Explosion with Design

For years, many water heater-related fires, injuries, property damage claims, and deaths were attributed to “consumer misbehavior.” By 2002, however, the NFPA National Fuel Gas Code began to reflect several key realizations: the existence of fugitive vapors and how appliance design can limit the risks they pose. Read More

A proper thermometer that includes an indication of dangerous temperatures and a needle stop.

Product Design is Critical to Consumer Safety

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As the holiday season nears, thoughts turn to wonderful home cooked meals with family.  Few things in life are more pleasurable than a traditional holiday turkey feast. Yet for an unfortunate few, holiday meal time can turn tragic if a turkey frying accident occurs.   While fried turkeys may be tasty, many fire safety experts feel that the reward is not worth the risk.  In fact, UL will not list a turkey fryer, even though a product safety standard, ANSI Z21.89 Outdoor Cooking Specialty Gas Appliances covers the product.  Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association discourages their use.  Links to these organizations’ statements on turkey fryers are included at the end of this blog. Consulting those links and watching a few online videos of a turkey fryer catching fire can be insightful, and a bit sobering, if you are thinking of frying a turkey.  Read More

[SLIDESHARE] Ovens and Furnaces

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Safety through design is a critical consideration in oven and furnace manufacturing. This slideshow takes a look at industry standards governing their design and identifies common safety oversights.

An open fuel supply line was found during the explosion investigation.

Code Violations Are Root of Fatal Explosion

The design and installation of gas piping systems in homes and commercial buildings is guided by a set of regulations called NFPA 54 — the National Fuel Gas Code. The code, which establishes minimum safety requirements, is also used by forensic engineers to evaluate an explosion to determine cause and responsibility. Read More

The explosion caused considerable damaged to the home.

Explosion Investigations Uncover Answers

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The cause of an explosion can result from a chain of events in some cases. In many residential explosions and resulting fires, the facts can point to a number of potential causes. Certified fire and explosion investigators, like Warren engineers and technicians, have the experience and training to uncover and evaluate scenarios with high degrees of certainty. In some cases, like one residential explosion I investigated, the chain of events can start days before the loss.
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