In regards to forensic fire engineering, FPE Magazine states:

“Understanding the harmful effects of fire and the means to protect against them are central to the practice of fire protection engineering. Given this specialized background, more and more frequently fire protection engineers are tasked with investigating the cause of fires and explosions, as well as the failure of fire protection systems and their effect on life and property loss.

Often, these failures or accidents lead to legal proceedings, and fire protection engineers, as with other engineering disciplines, are retained to provide specific scientific and engineering expertise in order for the legal proceedings to reach resolution. “Forensic engineering” services are becoming a common offering for organizations and companies with traditional fire protection engineering divisions. Forensic engineering is defined as, “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.”

This brings to mind a case Harrington Group worked on several years ago. A fatal fire occurred in a single-family residence. Investigators working for the insurance company performed an analysis for the purpose of determining the fire’s cause and the key factors contributing to the fatality. It was determined that the home was not equipped with any smoke detectors. One expert concluded that the presence of smoke detectors at the time of the fire would not have provided occupants with additional time to escape, and the fatality would still have occurred.

Our forensic fire engineers were brought in by an attorney to review the expert’s analysis, which included the use of a computer fire model. In reviewing the analysis we ultimately determined that several critical factors were either overlooked or omitted by the expert. These critical factors supported that the presence of smoke detectors in the home at the time of the fire would have provided sufficient warning to the occupants to allow all to escape and avoid the fatality. Harrington Group’s thorough analysis and conclusions ultimately enabled the client to receive a favorable settlement with minimal expenditure.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.