Professional Engineering & Investigation Services

Anderson Engineering & Investigations are professional engineers experienced in manufacturing engineering, product and process failure mode analysis, electrical, mechanical, and forensic engineering including fire investigation services.

When you need answers you can trust, Anderson Engineering & Investigations will provide you with timely, understandable results.

Lithium Ion Batteries: Cause or Victim?

Blaze Fire Investigation is now know as Anderson Engineering. (updated 6/28/17)

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What is hidden in that piece of char?

Blaze Fire Investigation is now know as Anderson Engineering. (updated 6/28/17)

Utilizing Radiography and Computerized Tomography as Tools for Non-Destructive Examinations

Many times the evidence left after a fire is unrecognizable and appliances that are made partially out of plastic have melted leaving only a pile of char.  However, most of the time, the metal components inside the appliance have remained intact and are just buried in charred plastic making them inaccessible for physical examination.  This causes a problem for the investigator because the components they need to exam are unavailable.  They risk causing damage to the artifact if they physically try to remove the components by breaking away the plastic.  That’s why our team of investigators are trained to utilize radiography (X-rays) and computerized tomography (CT scans) as a non-destructive examination tool.

Utilizing X-rays as a non-destructive tool has been used in fire investigation for years.  X-rays are a great way to see components on a two dimensional image and can be very useful in determining switch positions, fuse conditions, and many other things. A CT scan is an x-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images together, with the aid of a computer, to produce a three-dimensional image.  Below are examples of images from a CT scan of a surge protector.  As you can see, these images are incredibly detailed.

 

These images give our investigators the ability to see inside of an object without cutting or destroying the evidence and therefore preserving the evidence.   You can see the metal oxide varistors (MOVs) and switch contacts in the images above.  These tools are invaluable when determining the origin and cause of a fire. Contact Blaze Fire Investigation to assign a project or to learn more about our fire investigation and forensic engineering services.

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Using Drip Loops Could Save Your Fish and Your Home

Blaze Fire Investigation is now know as Anderson Engineering. (updated 6/28/17)

Saltwater aquariums are fascinating and beautiful.  Having a little piece of the ocean inside your home has been attracting hobbyist for years.   However, not all hobbyists are aware of the dangers and risks that are associated with keeping a saltwater aquarium.

It was the start of a beautiful day in Memphis, TN until the owners of a 90 gallon saltwater aquarium woke up to the smoke alarm sounding in their home.  They ran into the living room and saw flames shooting up behind their aquarium.  They immediately grabbed the phone, called 9-1-1 and ran out of the house.  The fire department came and extinguished the fire. Unfortunately, the glass tank broke during the course of the fire and all the aquarium inhabitants were lost.

Our team of experts examined and photographed the fire scene and collected all of the aquarium equipment in the home. The aquarium equipment consisted of a water pump, heater, protein skimmer and two fluorescent light fixtures.  All of this equipment was plugged into a relocatable power tap that was located on the floor behind the aquarium.  A detailed examination of all of the aquarium equipment showed the most severe damage was located at the power tap.  The power tap’s plastic housing was melted and charred and sections of the hot and neutral busses were visible.  See photographs below.

The hot and neutral busses showed evidence of melting and a short section of both of the buses was melted away.  Analysis showed that arcing occurred between the line and neutral busses in the power tap.  These busses are normally separated by an air gap and insulating plastic material.  In order for an arcing event to occur internal to the power tap, a current path must be established across the insulating materials.  Arcing across an insulating material is known as arc tracking and is commonly due to contamination on the insulating surfaces.  In this case the contamination was caused by the saltwater from the aquarium. 

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How We Manage a Joint Fire Investigation Scene

Blaze Fire Investigation is now know as Anderson Engineering. (updated 6/28/17)

Fire investigation scene management

Managing a joint fire investigation scene in a methodical, organized manner keeps costs low for our clients. Our management creates efficiencies while getting the job done. Our first step is to determine if a joint investigation is needed. As we begin to examine the scene, we look for origin and cause. We rule out items that show zero evidence of involvement. This assures that we have the correct representation at the joint investigation. When the appropriate parties have been notified, it's our job to manage the scene so that everyone can have access to the information and evidence. This results in decisions that are made accurately and quickly.

Joint scene preparation

When artifact representatives arrive for the joint investigation, we provide them with a packet that contains the fire department incident report, a diagram of the scene, a protocol of how the scene will be excavated and how artifacts will be collected, any lab reports, and a synopsis of events prior, during and after the fire. Taking the time to gather this information efficiently answers questions that routinely arise in the investigation process and assures that everyone has the same baseline knowledge of the scene.

The scene itself is maintained and protected so that it is in the condition that it was when the fire department released the scene. If the fire department made any changes in the course of their own investigation, that is noted. Safety concerns are placarded as well as "Do Not Enter" signage in the area of origin. Barricade tape is placed around the area of origin. Plywood may be placed over door openings to limit access. We work with the restoration contractor to create a safe work place.

During the investigation

The packet that the representatives receive as they arrive on the scene includes a plan for how the investigation will be conducted. It includes steps for digging out debris, collecting artifacts and reconstructing the area of origin. The Blaze Fire investigator managing the scene goes over the plan and responds to any questions or requests from the participants, always mindful that the objective is an unbiased investigation. Shovels, ladders, lights, power equipment and any other tools that might be needed at the scene are ready. If part of a building needs to be removed, heavy machinery will be on hand. Warming equipment to thaw frozen debris and provide a workable air temperature is provided.

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