Electrical Investigation of Structural Fire


Electrical Investigation of Structural Fire
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In a large commercial garment cleaning facility, a structural fire occurred immediately after a portable engine/generator set was started to supply electrical power. The fire originated in the 2nd floor office area of the building, causing complete destruction of the office area. A 500kW trailer mounted engine/generator set had been installed and connected at the facility immediately prior to the fire. Fire was detected within minutes of the initial operation of the generator. Our experts were engaged to conduct a detailed examination of the generator electrical terminal board and the associated cables. It was determined that the electrical contractor installed the grounding conductors, but failed to install the critical neutral conductors. After a functional test was performed using the undamaged generator, it was determined that the improper wiring connections made by the electrical contractor resulted in a dangerous overvoltage condition on the 120-volt electrical loads in the office area. That overvoltage condition caused immediate electrical failures and led to the structure fire. As a result of our conclusions, our client was able to recover $500,000 from the installer without a trial or expert depositions.

Mechanical Equipment Evaluation in Karachi, Pakistan


Mechanical Equipment Evaluation in Karachi, Pakistan
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One of our senior mechanical engineers was engaged to perform site inspections of a gas turbine and metallurgical testing on turbine blades following power failure in an electrical grid served by a power plant located in Karachi, Pakistan. Due to the complexity and parties involved, our expert conducted multiple site inspections to investigate the cause of the failure.  The testing was conducted to determine cracking and vibration disturbance of the blades that may have led to failure.  In addition, our expert performed design document and product data research to support our field investigation. Our analysis resulted in discovery of a potential design flaw as the cause of the failure. As a result of our investigation, the client was able to identify a source of potential subrogation and recovery of damages.

Infrared Roof Survey


Infrared Roof Survey
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Prior to a property real estate transaction, the buyer was concerned about the future performance of the roof at a three-story office building constructed in 1987. In order to meet the client’s closing timeline, our experts were hired to perform an expedited infrared survey of the original built-up roof. In an interview, the current owner disclosed periodic roof leaks, most often associated with extreme rainfall events. While building records were not readily available, the initial building walk-through revealed staining of several ceiling tiles on the upper floor and limited corrosion of portions of the underside of the metal decking. A daytime inspection of the roof was performed and revealed numerous open flashings, previous repairs, and two clogged roof drains. The infrared roof survey was performed later that evening and revealed thermal anomalies along the roof parapet where clogged drains and openings in the flashing were observed. Thermal anomalies were also observed at several other locations adjoining roof penetrations. Based on these findings, the roof was determined to be at the end of its service life which aided the client in his evaluation of the property. A written report noting these results was delivered within 24 hours following the inspections.

Our expert team delivered cost effective and timely information necessary to meet the client’s specific needs and timeline restraints. In addition, EFI Global identified the clogged drains as a safety hazard and recommended immediate evaluation and correction.

Metallurgical Investigation


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EFI Global was hired to investigate the cause of a collapse of a water drill rig derrick, and using metallurgical analysis, determine if the cause was due to a manufacturing defect of the derrick structure components. The derrick itself was built by the insured and the derrick structure was reportedly designed by another company. After investigating the collapsed drill rig mast and trailer, our experts also reviewed the events in the field immediately preceding the collapse and the demobilization procedures for the drill rig. From the visual nondestructive examination, it appeared that the failure initiated within the left shoe and tubing interface materials, with the fracture face indicating a sudden failure. The failure in the material can be associated with the weld process or the joining preparation of the shoe and tubing. The joining process was more suspect because of the gap present at one corner of the internal tubing and shoe interface that existed prior to failure. The tubing sits at an angle against the shoe base. The welding process also could not be eliminated as causation without performing destructive testing. The steel tubing material can be compromised due to the welding process. The properties of the steel in the heat affected zone (HAZ) could be altered, leading to reduced tensile properties. Laboratory analysis of the shoes from the broken mast, the feet from the hydraulic cylinders and the hydraulic cylinders indicated that failure occurred due to insufficient weld quality.  Our experts’ conclusions ultimately lead the client to perform inspections throughout its rig fleet on similar models.

Semi-Truck Trailer Fire Investigation and Evaluation of Damaged Bridge


Semi-Truck Trailer Fire Investigation and Evaluation of Damaged Bridge
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A semi-truck lost use of its brakes and caught fire while traveling down an Interstate Highway while in the process of shipping cargo across the United States. The driver brought the truck to a stop along a center dividing wall underneath a bridge overpass where the truck burned for an extended amount of time until the fire was extinguished. Our experts responded by providing fire investigation services to determine the origin and cause of the truck fire and forensic engineering services to determine the extent of damage to the bridge structure as a result of the truck fire. The fire investigation not only identified the origin and cause of the fire, but provided subrogation potential related to recent maintenance and repair work performed on the semi-truck associated with a manufacturer’s recall. The structural evaluation of the bridge involved overcoming numerous logistical hurdles involving field work along a center median wall of a busy interstate highway. Considerable time and effort was required to gain necessary permitting by the local governmental agency to gain access and provide the necessary safety measures to perform the structural evaluation of the bridge overpass using manlifts and other equipment. Our bridge evaluation identified a proper scope of repair work and associated cost estimate that was significantly less than claimed by the owner. EFI Global’s broad depth of local forensic services provided the client with continuous service to address the many issues involved with the project.

As a result of the fire investigation, our experts identified subrogation opportunities for our client. We also provided repair scope and cost estimates for bridge damage that were significantly less than the original owner’s estimates.

Multi-million Dollar Fire Loss


Multi-million Dollar Fire Loss
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In a multi-million dollar case involving an island marina in The Bahamas, a hotel and restaurant fire destroyed the surrounding pier and several docked boats. After conducting interviews with the restaurant staff, pesticides were identified as part of routine facility maintenance, but not at damage-causing levels. However, in this particular case, the pesticides filtered through the room, reached their explosive range and combined with a spark from a refrigerator compressor, resulted in the fire. Our investigation and evidence examination proved the loss was accidental, and continues to work regularly with Bahamian investigators on additional cases.

Canine-assisted Fire Investigation


Canine-assisted Fire Investigation
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During the investigation of a $6 million structural fire loss, our experts utilized canines to search and identify the location of ignitable liquids. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of ignitable liquid in the area identified by the canines, thus proving incendiary fire cause, and saving numerous man-hours during the course of investigation.During the investigation of a $6 million structural fire loss, our experts utilized canines to search and identify the location of ignitable liquids.

Fire Investigation Case Review


Fire Investigation Case Review
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An attorney firm engaged EFI Global fire investigators and scientists to analyze a two-year old investigation that caused their insured to be named as a defendant in a civil suit. Unfortunately, the attorney’s case was hampered by the fact that the scene had been cleared down to the slab. Using the facts, data, interviews and photos produced by the original investigators from multiple fire investigation firms, our investigators were able to dissect the layers of the events and identify flaws in the earlier investigation. Sophisticated investigative tools included time line analysis, witness data triangulation and multiple variable analysis. Faced with the real facts, the plaintiff team settled for less than 5% of the original demand.

Underground Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture


Underground Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture
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EFI Global dispatched a fire and explosion investigator and an engineer to investigate a pipeline rupture in South America that claimed the lives of several pipeline workers.  After days of interviews, document review and examination of physical evidence in several locations across the country, our experts were able to assist the pipeline company in establishing the cause by reconstructing the physical and human chain of events leading to the rupture and the loss of life.  Our experts also assisted the pipeline company and risk managers in identifying improvements in procedures, testing and safety protocols to prevent a similar event.

Semi-truck Trailer Explosion


Semi-truck Trailer Explosion
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EFI Global responded to a semi-truck trailer explosion on a Friday morning. That same afternoon, another explosion came from a second trailer carrying the same cargo. Our professionals worked with the local fire department, EPA and Hazmat authorities to secure the scene and shut down the manufacturing plant producing the products. In order to maintain the plant’s production schedule, we assembled a major loss response team including an on-site chemist to perform 24-hour testing and a team of engineers, who developed a plan to move the product to another location before Monday morning. Our investigation concluded an item sold to the plant did not meet specifications and caused the explosions. EFI Global’s timely response and thorough investigation prevented liability against the client and provided an avenue of recovery for the organization and the injured truck driver.