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By Charles C. Roberts, Jr. Ph. D., P.E.

Event data recorders are typically electronic devices that store information received from sensors connected to the device.  An event data recorder is often referred to as a “black box,” a familiar recording device found on many large passenger aircraft. Event data recorders are now being designed into many other products to aid in diagnosing problems that may arise with usage of the product.  Automobiles, electronic panels, alarm systems and some appliances are equipped with event data recorders.  When a loss occurs, it is becoming more likely that some evidentiary information concerning the loss will be recorded on some device.  Typical recorded data may be the time a heat sensor activated in a fire alarm panel, the number of loads handled by a clothes dryer, or the speed of an automobile prior to a collision.  The following three examples illustrate the type of data retained in “black boxes” and their significance.  It should be noted that this article deals with numerical data retained and not visual data retained from the prolific surveillance camera.

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Order granting Motion for Spoliation sanctions and dismissing for failure to follow NFPA 921. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a good discussion of the basics and how poor housekeeping led to a very bad result.  Submitted by Michael Durr, Experienced Tennessee Subrogation & Recovery Attorney, on LinkedIn for discussion.  Click here to join the discussion.

BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are generally undisputed and have been set forth in detail, for the most part, in the Court’s prior Order on Defendant’s Motion for Spoliation Sanctions. (Dkt. No. 35.) In sum, Plaintiff Bear River claims that the speed control deactivation switch (SCDS) in the 1994 Ford F-150 pickup truck owned by its insureds, Jeff and Julie Schoepf, was defective and caused a fire that spread from the truck to the Schoepf’s house.1 Bear River’s claim is based on an investigation conducted by Bear River’s expert, Tad Norris, a fire investigator with IC Specialty Services, who was assigned to inspect the scene and determine the origin of the fire.  On behalf of Bear River, Mr. Norris inspected the scene and decided what evidence should be preserved without Ford’s presence, consent or input. As part of that investigation, Mr. Norris removed the SCDS’ hexport and electrical housing and claims that he sent both to another expert, Jeff Morrill, who requested an examination of the hexport. Mr. Morrill acknowledged receipt of the hexport, but claims he never received the electrical housing. Following Norris’ inspection and investigation, the scene of the fire was destroyed. Additionally, Plaintiff lost the hexport before it could be inspected and tested by Ford, and Plaintiff lost the electrical housing before inspection and/or testing by anyone.

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Abstract

Grilling has become part of many celebrations and regular meals. Unfortunately, grilling also causes fires and burns. National estimates of reported fires derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey show that in 2009-2013, grills, hibachis or barbecues were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, including an average of 3,900 structure fires and 5,100 outside or unclassified fires. These 8,900 fires caused annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 reported civilian injuries, and $118 million in direct property damage. Almost all of the losses resulted from structure fires. Five out of six grills involved in reported fires were fueled by gas. The leading causes of grill fires were a failure to clean, having the grill too close to something that could catch fire and leaving the grill unattended. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills. In 2014, 8,700 thermal burns involving grills were seen in hospital emergency departments. Roughly three out of five thermal burns were non-fire burns, typically caused by contact with the grill or its contents. Children under five accounted for one-third of the contact burns involving grills.

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On May 18, 2017, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsyvania, ruled that a plaintiff's electrical engineering expert could not testify regarding the origin of a fire and fur excluded a portion of his testimony regarding the fire cause.

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This article was member submitted and includes a short comment about the article at the bottom.

Selecting Among Engineer Experts (aka, What Kind of Expert Do I need for This Loss?) JH Nolt June 29, 2017
Do you want your Proctologist doing your Neuro-surgery? They are both licensed MDs aren't they?
Do you want your Wills and Trusts Attorney working on your Subrogation case? They are both licensed Attorneys aren't they?
Do you want your Workman's Comp adjuster handling your Large Property Liability loss? Adjusters are all licensed adjusters aren't they?
Similar concerns exist amont the various engineering disciplines and licenses. They are all forensic engineers aren't they?
In a word - No, No, No and No.

While there are over 10,000 different types of experts, in California there are eighteen types of licensed engineers.  

The three main types are:
  • Civil
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical

 

The others are:

  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Control System Engineer
  • Corrosion Engineer
  • Fire Protection Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Metallurgical Engineer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Quality Engineer
  • Safety Engineer
  • Soils (Gotechnical) Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Traffic Engineer

 

 

 

 

 

To obtain any of these licenses, there are specific education, experience, expertise, examination and professional peer recommendation requirements that are reviewed and approved (or rejected) by technical peers before the license is granted.

The following pages try to help you understand the differences amount the engineer types so you make better expert selections at the beginning of your loss investigation.  At the end, website addresses are provided so you can check an engineering expert for proper licensure.

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A phase-out of environmentally damaging chemicals means that most refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners may soon be using flammable refrigerants.

BY JESSE ROMAN

 

Like a suitor spurned over and over in love, the refrigeration and air conditioning industries can’t seem to find a good partner. While the mechanics of these indispensible technologies have been stable for decades, the substances that circulate through them absorbing heat and cooling the air—aptly named refrigerants—keep finding ways to foul things up.

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Experimental Study of the Effects of Fuel Type, Fuel Distribution, and Vent Size on Full-Scale Underventilated Compartment Fires in an ISO 9705 Room

INTRODUCTION
This report describes new full-scale compartment fire experiments, which include local
measurements of temperature, heat flux and species composition, and global measurements of
heat release rate and mass burning rate. The measurements are unique to the compartment fire
literature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive and quantitative assessment of
major and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at two locations in the upper layer of
fire in a full scale ISO 9705 room [1].
Fire protection engineers, fire researchers, regulatory authorities, fire service and law
enforcement personnel use fire models (such as the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator, FDS[2]) for
design and analysis of fire safety features in buildings and for post-fire reconstruction and
forensic applications. Fire field models have historically showed limited ability to accurately
and reliably predict the thermal conditions and chemical species in underventilated compartment
fires. Formal validation efforts have shown that for well ventilated compartment fires, with the
exception perhaps of soot, field models do quite well in predicting temperature and species when
experimental uncertainty is accounted for. Inaccurate predictions of incomplete burning and soot
levels impact calculations of radiative heat transfer, burning rates, and estimates of human
tenability. High-quality (relatively low, quantified uncertainty) measurements of fire gas
species, temperature, and soot from the interior of underventilated compartment fires are needed
to guide the development and validation of improved fire field models.

Introduction

This report describes new full-scale compartment fire experiments, which include localmeasurements of temperature, heat flux and species composition, and global measurements ofheat release rate and mass burning rate. The measurements are unique to the compartment fireliterature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive and quantitative assessment ofmajor and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at two locations in the upper layer offire in a full scale ISO 9705 room [1].

Fire protection engineers, fire researchers, regulatory authorities, fire service and lawenforcement personnel use fire models (such as the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator, FDS[2]) fordesign and analysis of fire safety features in buildings and for post-fire reconstruction andforensic applications. Fire field models have historically showed limited ability to accuratelyand reliably predict the thermal conditions and chemical species in underventilated compartmentfires. Formal validation efforts have shown that for well ventilated compartment fires, with theexception perhaps of soot, field models do quite well in predicting temperature and species whenexperimental uncertainty is accounted for. Inaccurate predictions of incomplete burning and sootlevels impact calculations of radiative heat transfer, burning rates, and estimates of humantenability. High-quality (relatively low, quantified uncertainty) measurements of fire gasspecies, temperature, and soot from the interior of underventilated compartment fires are neededto guide the development and validation of improved fire field models.

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Flashover Fires in Small Residential Units with an Open Kitchen

ABSTRACT
The open kitchen design in small residential units where fire load density and occupant
load are very high introduces additional fire risk. One big concern is that whether
flash-over can occur which may trigger a big post flashover fire, resulting in severe
casualties and big property damage. It is important to understand and predict the
critical conditions for flashover in this kind of units. Based on a two-layer zone model,
the probability of flashover is investigated by a nonlinear dynamical model. The
temperature of the smoke layer is taken as the only state variable and the evolution
equation is developed in the form of a simplified energy balance equation for the hot
smoke layer. Flashover is considered to occur at bifurcation points. Then the influence
of the floor dimensions and the radiation feedback coefficient on flashover conditions
is examined. When the dimensions of the floor vary, the resulting changes in internal
surface area or size of floor area both have effect on the flashover conditions. When the
radiation feedback coefficient is of small value, there is no possibility of flashover.
With the increase of the radiation feedback coefficient, at first it significantly affects
the conditions for flashover and then moderately when it reaches a larger value. It is
proved that the flashover phenomenon can be demonstrated well by nonlinear
dynamical system and it helps to understand the effect of various control parameters.

Abstract

The open kitchen design in small residential units where fire load density and occupant load are very high introduces additional fire risk. One big concern is that whether flash-over can occur which may trigger a big post flashover fire, resulting in severe casualties and big property damage. It is important to understand and predict the critical conditions for flashover in this kind of units. Based on a two-layer zone model, the probability of flashover is investigated by a nonlinear dynamical model. The temperature of the smoke layer is taken as the only state variable and the evolution equation is developed in the form of a simplified energy balance equation for the hot smoke layer. Flashover is considered to occur at bifurcation points. Then the influence of the floor dimensions and the radiation feedback coefficient on flashover conditions is examined. When the dimensions of the floor vary, the resulting changes in internal surface area or size of floor area both have effect on the flashover conditions. When the radiation feedback coefficient is of small value, there is no possibility of flashover.  With the increase of the radiation feedback coefficient, at first it significantly affects the conditions for flashover and then moderately when it reaches a larger value. It is proved that the flashover phenomenon can be demonstrated well by nonlinear dynamical system and it helps to understand the effect of various control parameters.

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Measurements of Heat and Combustion Products in Reduced-Scale Ventilation-Limited Compartment Fires

1 Introduction
A series of new reduced-scale compartment fire experiments were conducted, which included
local measurements of temperature and species composition. The measurements are unique to
the compartment fire literature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive and
quantitative assessment of major and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at two
locations in the upper layer of fire in a 2/5 scale International Organization for Standards (ISO)
9705 room. The enclosure defined in the international standard ISO 9705 “Full-scale room test
for surface products” [1] is an important structure in which to conduct fire research. Many
dozens of research projects and journal articles have focused on this enclosure and the standard
describing its use. It is a common reference point for studies of many fire-related phenomena as
well as fire modeling efforts.

Introduction

A series of new reduced-scale compartment fire experiments were conducted, which includedlocal measurements of temperature and species composition. The measurements are unique tothe compartment fire literature. By design, the experiments provided a comprehensive andquantitative assessment of major and minor carbonaceous gaseous species and soot at twolocations in the upper layer of fire in a 2/5 scale International Organization for Standards (ISO)9705 room. The enclosure defined in the international standard ISO 9705 “Full-scale room testfor surface products” [1] is an important structure in which to conduct fire research. Manydozens of research projects and journal articles have focused on this enclosure and the standarddescribing its use. It is a common reference point for studies of many fire-related phenomena aswell as fire modeling efforts.

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Fremont Insurance Company and Steve and Diane Foley v. Gro-Green Farms, Inc.

FREMONT INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, and
STEVE FOLEY and DIANE FOLEY, d/b/a RAINBOW CREEK FARMS, Appellants/Cross-Appellees,
v.
GRO-GREEN FARMS, INC., Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
March 17, 2016

Before: K. F. KELLY, P.J., and FORT HOOD and BORRELLO, JJ.

UNPUBLISHED
PER CURIAM.

Plaintiffs appeal as of right from orders of the trial court granting defendant's motion for summary disposition and motion in limine. On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred in granting defendant's summary disposition on plaintiffs' tort claims on the basis of the economic loss doctrine, erred in granting defendant's motion for summary disposition on the basis that plaintiffs failed to provide defendant with reasonable notice pursuant to MCL 440.2607(3)(a), and erred in granting defendant's motion in limine and prohibiting evidence relating to "clinkers." Defendant cross appeals as of right, asserting alternative grounds for affirmance of its motion for summary disposition and motion in limine, and disputing the trial court's denial of its motion to amend its witness list. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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