Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: fire origin

  1. Heavy Machinery Fires Caused by Hydraulic Hose Failures

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    Heavy machinery fires are often caused by hydraulic hose failures.  Pressurized hydraulic fluid escaping from a failed hose assembly can be atomized into a fine spray that can be ignited by heated engine surfaces such as the engine exhaust or turbocharger.

    Hydraulic hoses near the engine compartment of an excavator that burned.

     

    Hydraulic hoses often fail due to age and wear, requiring regular inspection and replacement of hydraulic hoses to prevent failures. Hoses may also fail if they are misrouted.  Misrouting can lead to the hose being pinched or causing it to chafe against a sharp metal surface. (more…)

  2. Improper Hearth Extension Leads to Structure Fire

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    The fire service affords you the opportunity to witness and observe things that a lot of engineers and even most people do not get the chance to see.  An example of this is the situation where extended elevated temperatures combined with poor construction techniques to result in a structure fire.

    I have personally observed several occasions where a structure fire was initiated due to improper construction of the fireplace hearth extension.  The most recent one followed a multi-day cold snap, at least by South Carolina standards.  The thermometer read 17 degrees F as I drove to the call of smoke in a residence (more…)

  3. Firefighter Burned Due to Improper Industrial Oven Design and Operation

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    Industrial ovens and furnaces are used in many manufacturing processes.  One use of industrial ovens is for drying and curing coatings on fabrics.

    I investigated a fire loss involving a very large oven, 10 stories high, used for curing coatings on an industrial fabric. A young firefighter was burned in response to this fire, one of a string of many fires that had occurred involving the oven.

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  4. Top Ten Photography Tips for Field Investigators

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    Here at Warren, we often rely on photographs provided by our clients to make preliminary assessments of incoming cases.  Since we see quite a few client provided photos, and since we take plenty of photographs ourselves, we’ve developed an eye for what makes a good and useful field investigation photograph.  We’ve also struggled with a few bad ones from time to time.  Good photographs always end up saving time and money.  To that end, here are ten tips to help you take better photographs every time. (more…)

  5. Container Handler Fire

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    Container handlers are mobile, rubber-tired, machines that are used to load and stack standard containers at a variety of shipping terminals.  The machines resemble oversized forklifts but are equipped with shipping container lift spreaders instead of forks.  The machines are often equipped with sophisticated computer systems that inform the operator which container needs to be lifted as well as its destination, whether it is a truck, train, or storage stack. (more…)

  6. Annual Hood Suppression System Inspection

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    Recently, we had the opportunity to observe a semi-annual inspection of a commercial cooking fire suppression system. Before we get too far into this we would like to point out that we talked with one of the company’s owners as well as the technician about our presence there and the questions we would ask the technician. Neither of them had a problem with this request. (more…)

  7. Improperly Used Space Heaters Can Be Dangerous

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    As the temperature outside slides from the cold to the “bitter” cold range on the thermometer, most people tend to turn the heat on inside their home. Some homes, however, do not have whole house heat or sufficient heating capacity and therefore the occupants  may rely on portable space heaters. Portable space heaters, used properly, can be a good choice to warm a small area of a home. Unfortunately, while they can warm your cold and tingling hands and feet, they can also warm nearby materials to the point of ignition. (more…)

  8. Thermal Oil Equipment Fires

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    Thermal oils, also called organic heat transfer fluids, are specialized industrial fluids that deliver energy from a central common fluid heater to different types of heat consuming equipment. Thermal oil systems are similar to hot water hydronic systems supplied by boilers; however, use of thermal oils allows systems to operate at higher temperatures without the higher pressurization required by water-based systems. (more…)

  9. 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, have the experience and training to uncover and evaluate scenarios with high degrees of certainty. In some cases, like one residential explosion we investigated, the chain of events can start days before the loss.
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