Fire & Flood: Elements Out of Control

Earlier this month, two investigators from Hawkins’ London Office, and two from Hawkins’ Reigate Office, gave forensic case study presentations on specific types of property claims at the First Annual CPD & Networking Event at the Southampton Insurance Institute . Their four-part series was entitled Fire & Flood - Elements Out of Control.

The first talk was given by Richard Heath of the London Office and covered Lithium Ion Battery Fires. Included in his presentation were insights into what lithium-ion batteries are, why they are so popular, and how they can cause fires if they fail. Richard urges us as consumers to ‘beware the bargain battery’ and to always use correct practice when charging these complicated powerhouses. The larger the cell, the greater the possibility of thermal runaway occurring if it is exposed to an external short; and an example of this can be as simple as spare e-cigarette batteries shorting on change or keys if carried in pockets together with other items. Richard also showed videos of explosive lithium-ion battery failures, which were not only enlightening in terms of understanding such failures, but also a visual highlight of his presentation

    

The second presentation was given by David Reid Rowland of the London Office on White Goods Fires. In this talk, David covered not only the different ways that fires in white goods can start, but also the current actions that manufacturers, statutory bodies and trading standards are taking to issue recalls and repair failed appliances. His presentation included some demonstrative video of the difference construction materials can have on appliances when it comes to fire spread. A plastic backing on a refrigerator, as opposed to a metal one, can cause a fire to grow much faster. As a result, David says that manufacturers are coming under pressure to produce appliances using non-combustible or reduced combustibility materials. Fire Brigades are also campaigning for a single, publicly accessible register of UK and international product recalls.

 

The third talk was given by Nicola Fallowfield-Smith of the Reigate Office. It was Nicola’s pleasure to illuminate that Escapes of Water are just as complex and interesting as fires. She covered the function of her role as a forensic engineer in the context of escapes of water, and when a forensic engineer should be instructed on an escape of water claim. She also went over both common failure mechanisms, as well as the excuses most experts in this field have heard surrounding common failures. It was her goal to debunk the mystery of the ‘bad fitting,’ and to explain escapes of water by understanding the factors that can cause them.

The final presentation was given by Ian Major of the Reigate Office. Ian covered the Ingress of Water into Basements from a Civil Engineer’s point of view. He provided insight into the different types of design and waterproofing used in basements, and shared instances where their effectiveness, or lack thereof, could be seen. Ian also gave advice into the various tests a forensic engineer can undertake including, but not limited to: a moisture assessment, a dye test, ground investigation, and thermal imaging.

If you would like to schedule a visit from a forensic engineer to give a talk at your institute or office’s next CPD event, please get in touch

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