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Articles on Fires & Explosions

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On February 7, 2008, at about 7:15 p.m., a series of huge explosions and fires occurred at the Imperial Sugar refinery northwest of Savannah, Georgia, causing 14 deaths and injuring 38 others, 14 seriously. The facility, which converted raw cane sugar into granulated sugar, had a material-handling system that included the familiar railcar unloader, belt conveyors, bucket elevators, and silo storage. The explosions were fueled by massive accumulations of combustible sugar dust throughout the packaging building.

Fires can be caused by devices that fail due to a manufacturer's defect. Quality assurance procedures have gone a long way to eliminate out-of-box failures but manufacturers sometimes bypass quality checks on consumer products for competitive reasons. Even the most ethical companies are susceptible to human error that can cause an almost imperceptible change in an otherwise flawless manufacturing procedure.

In the course of an arson investigation one of the standard procedures is, when possible, to collect the clothing of arson suspects and have them tested for ignitable liquids. The hypothesis being that if the clothing tests positive for the same ignitable liquids that are found in the fire debris, it is good circumstantial evidence to place the suspect at the scene with an ignitable liquid.

Issues with the case: Poole Fire Protection was hired by the attorney for the sprinkler contractor's insurance company to help with the investigation as to why the sprinkler system did not function correctly and why the water was not flowing properly through the system to extinguish the fire during the incident. The sprinkler contractor installed and was performing the inspection, testing and maintenance of the fire protection system at the Lumber Mill. The inadequate operation of the sprinkler system at the Lumber Mill created a significant loss of the building and equipment from the fire.

Poole Fire Protection provided services for the Design-Build Military major renovation of the existing Building 6050 in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, currently used as a barracks for 1200 (five platoons) trainee soldiers and commanding officers with the mission to provide a first class facility for trainees, living areas, environment and furnishings which have exceeded their life expectancy. One of five existing Starship buildings at Ft. Sill, the renovation of building 6050, a building of over 250,000 sq. ft., included the complete removal and replacement of the building's infrastructures including all fire protection and life safety.

Catastrophic failure leading to the property loss of millions of dollars spreading across 3 multi-storied hotels. Poole Fire Protection's roll was to evaluate the loss and existing system in order to determine what caused the failure. Poole Fire Protection scope included traveling to and from all sites, conducting site observation of commercial building sprinkler, fire alarm and general building construction, and provide verbal and written report of findings.

What does the insurer do once the fire is out? Normally, the property loss notice is submitted by the insured as soon as possible to begin the adjustment process, collect for damages, and get life back in order. The insurer takes this information and relates it to the adjuster, who then investigates and settles the claim. In fire losses, many times the adjuster will seek the services of a fire investigator or other expert to assist in determining the cause of loss so he or she can make an informed decision as to how to proceed with adjusting the claim. But the expert assigned to a certain loss can make all the difference in the world in how a claim is settled and whether there is an avenue for recovery of insurance funds or protection in potential liability claims.

Poole Fire Protection provided the design for the Wet Pipe Sprinkler System and the Fire Alarm/Mass Notification System for the 164,443 square foot Multi-Aircraft Hangar facility. This new facility will perform programmed depot maintenance for a variety of aircraft. The hangar includes open and private offices, administration areas, break room, latrine/shower areas, open bay work area, technical order library, and building utility rooms.

A growing concern in the insurance sector is soot and smoke damage claims due to wildfires. Some of these fires can affect properties hund reds of miles downwind, causing the potential number of claims to be astronomical. Besides the known risks for respiratory and other health problems, smoke, soot, and char can cause physical damage ranging from settled ash to property damage.

Poole Fire Protection was hired by the Plaintiff's attorney's office to perform a code review/analysis to see if the building meets code for its occupancy use. Poole Fire Protection also performed Fire Modeling services to show how the fire acted within the environment once it was set.

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