Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Modern Automotive Fire Investigation

87 views

Published on

In this blog presentation, we cover the fire triangle elements of heat, oxygen and fuel, the stages of a fire, and the four fire cause classifications. We go through some investigation notes, thoughts, and a court case example. We also discuss unique automotive fire characteristics and the future of fires related to electric vehicles. We conclude with tips on what to ask for while gathering information on the circumstances of the loss.

Published in: Automotive
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Modern Automotive Fire Investigation

  1. 1. 1 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Modern Automotive Fire Investigation
  2. 2. 2 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Introduction to Vehicle Fires Losses in Canada - the latest stats (2017) • Approximately 3000 reported vehicle fire losses in Ontario alone per year. • Accounted for about 10% of reported fire fatalities, while outdoor fires accounted for 4%. • 20% of all fires. • More than $50 million in losses.
  3. 3. 3 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Basic Fire Theory The Fire Triangle These three elements are needed for a fire to ignite. And all of them are readily available in and around a vehicle.
  4. 4. 4 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION The Fire Triangle Fuel sources in a vehicle • Gasoline/diesel fuel • Alternate fuels • Lubricating fluids and greases • Engineered fluids (ATF, power steering) • Transmission & gear oils • Anti-freeze • Air conditioning refrigerant • Wet cell batteries • Plastics (including wiring insulation, and upholstery) FUEL
  5. 5. 5 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION The Fire Triangle Heat / Ignition sources in a vehicle • Engine surface • Exhaust system pipes, manifolds, mufflers, and turbos • Electrical system- resistance heating, dead short & energized ground • Friction brake pads, bearings • Tires skidding, spinning, underinflated or rubbing against a surface • Smoking materials • Engine belts • Intentional fire setting HEAT
  6. 6. 6 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION The Fire Triangle Air / oxygen sources in a vehicle • Atmosphere (engine area is well ventilated) • Nitrous oxide in performance vehicles OXYGEN
  7. 7. 7 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Automotive Fires Unique Characteristics • Vehicle fires burn different from building fires. • Vehicle fires burn more like a fire in a barrel or small incinerator. • In most cases, major destruction will occur within fifteen minutes. • Most cars will burn completely within 45-60 minutes, even without any accelerants.
  8. 8. 8 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fires Stages of a Fire Stage One: Ignition / Incipient Stage • Heat, oxygen and a fuel source combine and have a chemical reaction resulting in smoldering and smoke • Temperatures can reach 200°C
  9. 9. 9 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fires Stages of a Fire Stage Two: Growth Stage • Flames begin and there is a rapid rise in temperatures • Plastics begin to melt when heated above 170°C and provide more fuel for the fire
  10. 10. 10 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fires Stages of a Fire Stage Three: Fully Developed Stage • Fire is fully developed when the growth stage has reached its maximum and nearly all combustible materials have been ignited • Hottest phase of the fire with temperatures reaching to 1000°C or more
  11. 11. 11 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fires Stages of a Fire Stage Four: Decay / Smoldering Stage • Once most of the combustibles have been consumed in the fire, the deprivation of fuel brings the fire towards its end • Smoldering (low-temperature, flameless burning) may continue for an hour or more.
  12. 12. 12 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fires Stages of a Fire – Influencing factors Some factors that affect the speed at which a vehicle fire progresses through the stages include: • Pre-heated components: Easier for fires to accidentally start in a hot engine • Wind speed and direction • Accelerants: When accelerants such as gasoline are used, a fire can progress much more quickly
  13. 13. 13 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Determining the Area of Origin National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) The NFPA has two main publications that apply to vehicle fire investigations • NPFA 1033: Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator • NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations • Scientific method to identify cause
  14. 14. 14 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Determining the Area of Origin Overview • Importance of correctly identifying the area of fire origin: If the origin cannot be determined, then the fire cause cannot be determined. • A vehicle fire expert can determine area of origin by interpreting fire patterns. • There are 5 areas of origin according to NFPA 921 - 27.8.1: exterior, engine, interior, cargo, and underbody. • Typically, the area of origin is in the interior (passenger) compartment or engine compartment • A specific area or component can be isolated CAUTION: Early fire patterns may be altered or destroyed by additional fire damage!
  15. 15. 15 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fire Causes Overview There are 4 main classifications for the causation of vehicle fires:
  16. 16. 16 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Accidental Vehicle Fires 1. Fuel System Failure or Malfunction Fires 2. Electrical Fires 3. Oil Fires 4. Exhaust System Fires 5. Friction Fires
  17. 17. 17 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Tire Fire Case Study Special topic: Subrogation • A trailer pulling along a two- wheeled landscaping screening machine • It was reported that the left rear tire blew out and a fire started soon afterwards • Fire damage consumed most combustible materials in and around the machine • Lowest point of the burn pattern was near the left rear side of the vehicle, corresponding with the left rear wheel
  18. 18. 18 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Tire Fire Case Study Special topic: Subrogation • The truck towing the screening machine was travelling faster than 90 km/h on the highway • Our research revealed that the maximum recommended speed for the tires fitted on the screening machine was 90 km/h • The actual design and manufacturing of the landscaping machine contributed to the incident – the wheels and tires selected may have been under- designed for the weight of the machine • Insurer was able to subrogate the loss against towing operator.
  19. 19. 19 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Incendiary Vehicle Fires 1. Insurance fraud 2. Revenge / Vandalism 3. Cover up crime / destroy evidence *** OFTEN DIFFICULT TO PROVE ***
  20. 20. 20 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Vehicle Fire Causes 1. Lightning 2. Spontaneous Combustion 1. Cause cannot be proven to an acceptable level of certainty, 2. There is insufficient information to classify, or 3. Ignition source not identified. Fire might still be under investigation and the cause may be determined with the introduction or discovery of additional information.
  21. 21. 21 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Electric Vehicle (EV) Fires Additional Fire Investigation Considerations • There have now been a handful of high-profile reports on electric vehicle (EV) fires occurring after collisions and even while vehicles were charging • Lithium-ion batteries used in EVs are highly flammable • If the chassis is deformed in an accident, there is the possibility for the battery cell to be deformed, short circuit, and result in a fire • EV fires generally begin more slowly, not with an immediate “explosion” • These fires may occur with a time delay; fire can occur 24 hours or more after the collision. • Pre-fire data may be downloaded by Crash Data Retrieval tool, including Tesla (if not consumed by fire) • Pre-fire data may be available by manufacturer (such as Tesla)
  22. 22. 22 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Electric Vehicle Fires Additional Fire Investigation Considerations • Lithium ion batteries can experience thermal runaway if they are overheated, overcharged, or manufactured/installed incorrectly • EV’s are at increased risk for electric malfunction and/or fire because they are always on; they are never really deactivated like gasoline vehicles. They are either being driven, or charging • Charging stations themselves also pose another risk of a malfunction • EV manufacturers are taking precautions to counter-act lithium-ion batteries’ inherent fire risks – including short-circuit fail-safes that shut down the battery when voltage is outside a safe range • Advancements in automotive engineering technology have resulted in generally less fires, with a slight decline in incident rate over the years
  23. 23. 23 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Special Topic: Subrogating Manufacturer Defects The Failure Assessment Scientific Method Process 1. Document the evidence efficiently via photographs, notes, videos, measurements and gather evidence, if required 2. Conduct a “macro examination” of the evidence without disturbing it 3. Conduct laboratory examination of the evidence and determining if destructive testing is required (notify all interested parties) 4. Conduct destructive and analytical tests 5. Assess reported information: witness statements 6. Consult with additional specialized expertise as required 7. Analyze the possible cause and contributing factors to determine the likely cause of the failure 8. Provide a report and Litigation Support if required
  24. 24. 24 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Tips for Interested parties Questions to ask while information gathering • Describe the circumstances regarding the trip. • Location where anything unusual was first observed. • List any prior mechanical or electrical problems with the vehicle. • Have there been any recent maintenance or repair work done? If so, when and where? • Were any unusual noises, vibrations, or vehicle dynamics felt or observed? • What transpired before the fire? • How long was the fire burning? • What, if anything, was done during and after the fire? • If not present during the fire, when exactly was the vehicle found? Where was it found? What orientation was it found in (i.e. what direction was it facing)? • What exactly was reported? • Which doors/windows were left open at the time of the fire? • Are there any aftermarket parts or alterations made to the vehicle? (Note: even a phone charger or non manufacturer headlight bulb would be considered aftermarket parts) • Are there any photographs (from the time of the fire) or reports from the fire department? If so, please provide.
  25. 25. 25 © Kodsi Engineering Inc. 2018 – All Rights ReservedMODERN AUTOMOTIVE FIRE INVESTIGATION Did you know that we offer seminars at our office or yours? To schedule a more in-depth presentation for you and your team about black boxes and evidence preservation, or any of the current topics on the right, contact us directly at: 416-977-0009 1-800-263-6351 info@kodsiengineering.com

×