Testing As Part of Gas Appliance Incident Investigation

Author

John_Holecek_WEB

Expertise Includes:

    • Electrical & Mechanical Control Systems
    • Fires & Explosions
    • Gas Fired Equipment & Appliances
    • ICC, NFPA, OSHA Codes & Standards
    • Industrial Processes & Operations

Equipment and appliances supplied with fuel gases like natural gas, propane and butane are a common and convenient part of most of our lives.  Such devices as gas grills and ranges, ovens, furnaces, space heaters and water heaters usually perform without incident.  However, when they malfunction the potential for incidents such as fires and explosions, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and burn injuries may occur. These incidents may be due to design and manufacturing defects in the product, or improper installation or operation of the device.

Gas Appliance testing lab

Figure 1: Lab Testing of a Gas Heater at WARREN

When incidents occur with gas fired equipment, a proper investigation should be conducted to determine the cause(s).  One part of such an investigation may include testing of the gas appliance or exemplars of the appliance.  These tests can be compared with tests of other exemplar devices or with standards for the gas appliance. The ANSI Z21 and Z83 series of product standards include many provisions for testing common gas appliances.  These tests specify CO generation limits and temperature limits of parts of the appliance and nearby materials, among other provisions.


Gas Appliance Testing in Field

Figure 2: Field testing of flue gas

WARREN has the experience and ability to conduct such testing. I have conducted testing of gas appliances and equipment in both my forensic career and as a designer of gas fired appliances and equipment.  Such testing requires proper selection of testing equipment and experience in interpreting the results of such tests. If you have an incident involving natural gas or LP gas appliances or equipment, contact WARREN to obtain the benefit of our experience in dealing with these losses.

John Holecek, senior consulting engineer at Warren, is a licensed professional engineer in 8 states and has both a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina.  A certified fire and explosion investigator by the National Association of Fire Investigators, John has more than 23 years experience in the design of industrial process equipment and is extremely knowledgeable in ICC, NFPA and OSHA codes and standards. He pairs more than 13 years of experience supervising manufacturing operations with deep knowledge in areas such as applied industrial heat transfer in oven design, industrial electrical process and motor control systems, material handling systems and fire protection systems. In addition he’s designed paint finishing systems, and commercial and consumer gas fired cooking appliances. John has managed outside contractors in site safety requirements and installation of industrial process equipment.  By virtue of his experience, he is well versed in federal and state worker safety regulations.

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