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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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Nestlé Waters North America Recalls Water Dispensers

Description

This recall involves Nestlé three and five gallon cold and hot water dispensers. The units are white and silver in color and measure about 38 inches tall by 13 inches wide. Water is dispensed from the large plastic water bottle on the top of the unit through the machine by pushing on the paddles below that are marked with blue for cold water and red for hot water. The Nestlé Waters North America logo is on the front of the units. Only the following model and serial numbers are included in this recall. The model and serial numbers are printed on a white sticker on the back of the units.
 

Details can be seen at CPSC.
 

 

Recalled Nestlé water dispenser
Model Numbers
Serial Numbers

deBW210EZ

BW210EZES

LB15A12606

LB15A12620

LB15A12622

LB15A12631

LB15A12670

LB15A12687

LB15A12690

LB15A12762

LB15A12763

LB15A12848

LB15A12849

LB15A12870

LB15A12888

GM Threatened With Regulatory Investigation Before Issuing Recall For Fire-Prone Hummers

July 14, 2015

Last week, General Motors announced that it would recall nearly 196,000 Hummer vehicles because simply turning on the heating or cooling system could set the car ablaze.While we reported that federal regulators had received nearly two dozen consumer complaints about the issue over the past seven years, a new report finds that the real number of reported incidents is much higher, and that GM may have continued to put off issuing the recall had it not been for threats of an investigation.

Jalopnik, citing sources with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported earlier today that General Motors only recalled the model year 2006 to 2010 Hummer H3 and model year 2009 to 2010 H3T after regulators threatened to open a formal investigation into the issue.

According to GM, the issue with the Hummer vehicles is related to an electrical part in the heating and cooling system that can overheat and cause a fire inside the dashboard.

Jalopnik reports that the first fire related to the blower issue occurred in August 2008 and was reported to NHTSA the following month.

However, a chronology report [PDF] posted by NHTSA at the time of the recall alleges the company only learned about the issue after receiving two consumer complaints through its Speak Up For Safety program in September 2014.

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Hearth & Home Technologies Recalls Gas Fireplaces

Corner FireplaceDescription

This recall involves Heat-N-Glo® and Heatilator® Corner Unit Series indoor gas fireplaces. The fireplaces are LP or NG-fueled corner units with tempered glass fronts. The following model numbers are printed on the unit rating plate, located near the controls used to operate the units, and in the instruction manual.

 

LCOR-36TRB-IPI
RCOR-36TRB-IPI
GDCL4136I
GDCR4136I

 See the full details at CPSC

Cooper Lighting Recalls Fluorescent Lighting Fixtures

RecallDescription

This recall involves indoor 2-light fluorescent light fixtures that range in size from 18 inches to 4 feet long. The fixtures were sold in white and can be mounted from heights between 8 and 12 feet. A date code between 182 11 (July 1, 2011) and 090 15 (March 31, 2015) is affixed to the fixture near the ballast in a DDD YY format. Catalogue and model numbers are located on the second line of a label affixed to the inside of the fixture. Catalogue and model numbers included in the recall: DLE217RLP, DLE217RLPB, DLE 232RLP, DLE232RLPB, SL232R, SL232R/1, SL232RPC, SL232RTP, SLNR232R, SLNR232R/1, SLNR232RCHR, SLW232R, SLW232R/1, SNF115R, SNF117R, SNF125R, SNF217R, SSF217R, WP217R, WP217RNKLLU, WP232R, WP232RLU, WP232RNKL, WP232RNKLLU and WP232RNKLRL.

 

Click here for full details from CPSC.

Code or standard?

What's the difference between a code and a standard?
Michael Heinsdorf, PE, LEED AP, CDT, ARCOM
07/01/2015

Almost every consulting engineer works with codes and standards on a daily basis, but do you know the difference between a code and a standard?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Circular No. A-119, Revised, a standard is "[t]he definition of terms; classification of components; delineation of procedures; specification of dimensions, materials, performance, designs, or operations; measurement of quality and quantity in describing materials, processes, products, systems, services, or practices; test methods and sampling procedures; or descriptions of fit and measurements of size or strength." In plain English, a standard consists of technical definitions, procedures, and/or guidelines that specify minimum requirements or instructions for manufacturers, installers, and users of equipment. This can be done by specifying either the methods or the results; the latter is known as "performance specifying." Most importantly, a standard provides standardization or agreement within the industry, which translates to a common reference among engineers, manufacturers, and bidders.

 

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