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Don’t Get Burned by Hiring the Wrong Fire Expert

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Don't Get Burned by Hiring the Wrong Fire Expert

On the Scene E-Newsletter, Edition 110, March 3, 2010

20100301_1Every year in America over 4,000 people die and another 20,000 are injured in fires. Sadly, around 80 percent of fire deaths occur in homes and could have been prevented. Below are a few statistics from FEMA's Fire Administration for 2008 U.S. fires (numbers unavailable for 2009):

  • There were an estimated 1.5 million fires in 2008.
  • In 2008, fires killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
  • There were 118 firefighters killed while on duty.
  • Direct property loss due to fires was estimated at $15.5 billion.
  • Intentionally set structure fires resulted in an estimated $866 million in property damage.

How do these fires start? They can be caused by electrical appliances, light fixtures, heaters, chemicals, lightening strikes, cooking, arsonists, etc. and now even smoke detectors have come under scrutiny.

However, to determine the actual cause of the fire, you need knowledgeable and well-trained fire & explosion investigators. Do not get burned by hiring someone with an untrained and inexperienced eye because they may interpret the scene incorrectly and cause blame to be placed inappropriately, resulting in unreliable opinions.

How do you as a claims manager or attorney keep this from happening on your case? Do not hire the least expensive firm (they may not employ highly experienced investigators and engineers).


  • Engineers/investigators with fire investigation certifications.
  • A firm who employs licensed engineers in a variety of disciplines with investigative experience.
  • Engineers/investigators that follow the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards.
  • Firms that insist on case peer review by knowledgeable fire origin and cause investigators and engineers.

CED, a multi-faceted, forensic engineering firm meets the “Do Hire” criteria. Our engineers/investigators work on a variety of fire & explosion investigations. One of our major fire & explosion cases involved a large 1,500 lb. test vessel that blew 1,000 feet in the air with parts scattered as far as ¼ mile away from the explosion site. We performed engineering calculations, completed a site inspection, and our engineer/investigators were able to reconstruct 98 percent of the test vessel. Using our experience and expertise, we provided the client with strategies for implementing additional safety controls to help prevent future accidents and to understand the root cause of a given failure.

CED's experience also includes fire origin and cause determination in houses and commercial buildings, malfunctions resulting in vehicle and boat fires, mechanical and electrical equipment fires, and household appliances. Also, Dr. Clyde Richard, founder of CED, is one of the leading experts on portable kerosene heater fires.

The bottom line: hire an engineer/investigator that follows NFPA standards, has experience and is certified in fire investigations and you will be well on your way to obtaining the correct answer and preparing a solid case.

For more information on how CED Investigative Technologies can assist you, please click on the “Live Chat” button for immediate assistance, send us an email request at Case Manager or call us directly at (800) 780-4221.

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