Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: fire

  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. Residential Structure Fires

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    The winter season is well underway in the United States, with the Christmas and New Years holidays behind us and the depths of cold weather here for the duration.  With winter, many people spend more hours indoors as compared to the summer when outdoor activities ramp up.  With more time spent indoors, it is somewhat intuitive that the use of electricity would increase as well.

    Electricity is one of the most influential utilities in our daily life.  Much of what modern societies rely on to get through a normal day requires electricity.  Have you ever been in a slight panic looking for an electric outlet when your cell phone is below 10% charge?  Or how many times do we all attempt to turn on a light switch when we enter a room during a known power outage from sheer habit?  Even our personal transportation which has relied on gasoline for roughly 100 years is shifting toward electric automobiles. (more…)

  4. Not Your Father’s House Fire

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    Remember the good old days when our homes were built with only lumber, dry-wall, and roofing?   Me neither.  However, we talk about ‘modern’ construction materials like this is a new phenomenon.  The truth is ‘modern’ construction materials started sneaking into homes over fifty years ago.  It’s not only construction materials that have changed: a century ago, we furnished our houses with wood, cloth, metal, and glass. Today, it’s plastics, foams, and coatings.

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  5. 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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  6. Evaluating the Potential for “Victim” Holes Not Caused By Lightning in CSST

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    Prior to becoming a forensic engineer, I spent many years in industry designing fuel gas fired equipment. This included designing gas grills, commercial cooking appliances, and large industrial systems.  I learned a lot about the safe use of natural gas and propane. Once I entered the forensic engineering field, that experience helped me in evaluating fires involving natural gas and propane equipment and piping systems. One such area that I have found particularly interesting are fires involving Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST).

    CSST is a material used to plumb fuel gas inside structures.  It is used as an alternative to traditional black steel pipe or copper tubing. The stainless steel tube of CSST, in certain circumstances, will perforate when subjected to electrical arcing, including that due to local lightning strikes.  The escaping fuel gas from these perforations has obvious implications as to causing fires. (more…)

  7. Forensic Examination of Losses that Include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s)

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    Many modern machines and processes are controlled by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s).  PLC’s are essentially computers that have the ability, properly connected and programmed, to interface with the outside world and control the actions of a machine like a robot or conveyor.  The PLC has a processor for processing the user programmed logic, and also has input / output (I/O) wiring provisions for both analog (e.g. temperatures and pressure transducers) and digital (e.g. limit switches and indicator lights) devices.  (more…)

  8. 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…)

  9. 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…)

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