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Electrical fire investigation

When electrical components are subjected to too much resistance, current, or voltage they can overheat and cause electrical fires. Determining whether components failed due to faulty design, poor installation or other factors, such as ground faults or lightning strikes requires expert analysis. Rehmann CIS can provide the experienced expert you need to identify the cause of an electrical fire or failure.

Rehmann recommends an electrical engineering expert who understands:

  • how electrical components are designed and manufactured
  • strengths and weaknesses of design and manufacturing
  • strengths and weaknesses of manufacturing process
  • the effects fire can have on electrical components

When is an electrical investigation recommended?

An electrical engineering investigation is usually recommended after a fire investigator has performed a scene analysis and identified evidence that points to an electrical source for the fire. Rehmann recommends a separate electrical engineering investigation when the fire involves:

  • a potential ignition source or scenario that is outside your expertise
  • a need for arc-mapping to define an undetermined or unclear area of origin
  • appliances and other electronic devices such as power strips
  • building wire
  • causal events such as ground faults, open neutrals and lightning strikes
  • small, low-energy arc events that leave only a small notch/bump as evidence

Our methodology

Our investigators use multidisciplinary techniques to evaluate the electrical equipment and systems to determine whether the cause of the fire was electrical in nature.

Each Rehmann investigation follows the judgment of an electrical forensic engineer with 20 years of combined electrical, forensic and electro-hydraulic engineering experience. Investigations are comprehensive, and include an examination of external factors such as the electrical service origination, service equipment, branch circuits and components. Transfer devices are also examined (extension cords, power strips), electrical devices (microwaves, space heaters, etc.). The investigator gathers data points, such as the source of the heat, the design and capacity of devices, and evidence of electrical failure modes such as voltage surge or overcurrent signs. Observations are often supplemented by laboratory testing and X-ray examination of evidence before a final evaluation and analysis is provided, assisting in the overall fire investigation.

We conduct investigations of all manner of suspected electrical fires, including:

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Commercial passenger vehicles
  • Residential, commercial and industrial structures
  • Construction and industrial equipment
  • Agricultural equipment

 

Thought Leadership

Meet The Rehmann Team

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