Fire & Explosion Origin and Cause Experts

Cissell Investigative Engineering LLC (CIE) offers expert investigation services. Our team of expert forensic and environmental engineers are available to determine cause and origin for damage caused to residential, commercial and industrial properties. From fire investigations to water intrusion claims, storm damage claims to mold remediation claims, our professional staff will investigate, analyze and complete a comprehensive report of the property damage.

  • HVAC & IAQ Claims
  • Soot & Smoke
  • Furnace
  • Freeze-Up
  • Lightning Damage Claims
  • Roofing Claims-Residential & Commercial
  • Structural, Vibration Claims Catastrophe Claims
  • Workers Comp Injury Causation
  • Fire Investigations
  • Origin & Cause
  • Product Testing

Fire and Explosion

Fire has been defined by the courts as “combustion sufficient enough to produce a spark, flame or glow.” By definition, a fire is not smoke or charring.  A claim we had was quite interesting, tenants left for a weekend, an owners’ policy changed from one insurer to another and a fire occurred at 3 am the day of the new policy.  We found compelling evidence that once the event progressed to a “glow”, the fire would have spread quickly, therefore the fire occurred the day of the new policy.
Over the years, the courts have distinguished between “friendly” and “hostile” fire. A friendly fire is one that burns where it was intended to burn: a flame on a gas stove; a fire in a fireplace; fire in an outdoor grill.
CIE determines if a fire is hostile to make the adjusters job easier to interpret the policy.  A hostile fire is one that burns where it was not intended to burn: the living room drapes; the cabinets above the stove; a deck near the outdoor grill. Many policies cover only direct damage caused by hostile fire.  CIE is often called to assess the cause and origin of soot damage.  CIE has found many sources responsible for soot damage ranging from air pollution, furnaces, wood stoves, tobacco, candles and gas fired fire places.
CIE uses NFPA 921 guidelines to fully substantiate subrogation claims.  Proper handling of the evidence is important in recovery  as well as a thorough adherence to accepted procedures.  We recently found a fire caused by faulty can light installations.  When we checked other installations outside of the area of origin we found 4 others had defects that were causing charring.

Fire and Arson Investigations

NFPA 921 is the guideline used to shape our investigations.  Recognition of signs indicating potential subrogation or arson is our hallmark.  CIE commonly performs the Origin and Cause Investigation leading to substantial recoveries.  Full arson and subrogation investigations can be exhaustive and usually reserved for high value fires and likely subrogation or arson outcomes.  CIE’s value to you supports both sides of an investigation.  Frequently CIE investigates products believed to be a cause of a fire.  One recent case involved a a cooking appliance in a restaurant fire, the fire event had investigators from three other principals.  Reconstructing the fire scene found one cooking appliance outside the hood where a pan of oil was used for frying foods.  It was found that the fire originated in the open pan, spread to the “suspect product”, then the cook used water on the oil fire where the splatter caused the fire to spread further.  Also, CIE determined that the installation didn’t meet the Fire Code, the HVAC system had a number of combustible separation issues, and the pan frying was frequent and outside the hood causing oily vapors to condense inside the HVAC system.

Part of our investigations frequently involves determining the reason for the extent of damage.  CIE often finds building code violations, maintenance issues, installation errors, fire suppression system failures and many other subrogation opportunities.

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