is a full-service Engineering, Fire Investigation, Environmental, Health and Safety
, and specialty consulting firm. Over the last four decades, they have grown from a boutique firm to become a recognized leader in engineering failure analysis, origin and cause investigations, and environmental consulting. This expertise coupled with the extensive coverage of our 27 national offices, more than 400 professionals, and global work abroad capability allows EFI Global to deliver timely responses that consistently meets their clients’ expectations.
EFI Global's continuing record of success has earned them several rankings in national publications including Engineering-News Record, Business Insurance, and Zweig White
. EFI Global employs professional engineers licensed in nearly all 50 states, as well as licensed fire investigators and environmental professionals. Their team of licensed professionals and numerous strategic partnerships can respond to most projects within 48 hours, regardless of location.
When faced with litigation, EFI Global's clients rely on valid, factual conclusions that translate scientific and technical facts into understandable concepts that can be supported with expert witness testimony. From thousands of fire cause and origin investigation for cases in federal, district and state courts, EFI has expanded its testimony expertise to assist the legal community with disputes arising from forensic engineering, accident reconstruction, environmental consulting, asbestos-related cases, mold and indoor air quality (IAQ) litigation support, and catastrophe claims.
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- Insurance Litigation
- Environmental Litigation
- Product Liability
- Transportation & Accident Reconstruction
- Construction Defects
- Failure Analysis
- Professional Liability
- Contract Law
- Catastrophic & Disaster Litigation
- Real Estate
This passage from the Book of Leviticus, which reads like an awkward directive from a manual on mold remediation, is an indication that mold has been troubling mankind since Biblical times. Although mold has been an issue for centuries, only in recent years has it grabbed the spotlight. This is due to high-profile lawsuits, such as the Ballard case in Texas, in which a family claimed that mold in their home was the source of their myriad health problems. The Ballards won an initial $32 million judgment against their insurance company, which later was reduced to $4 million.
Engineering involvement with property losses demands an open technical mind that can look at the bigger picture, sometimes beyond the scope of work initially requested by the adjuster or insurance company. Engineering law requires the professional engineer to protect "public health, safety, and welfare. "Sometimes specific technical requests are made to a forensic engineering firm that lead to much broader technical involvement in order to ensure compliance with engineering law and the protection of the public. Is it a benefit for an engineer to look at a broader picture when investigating a loss event, even if the scope of work has been specified? Let's examine two examples.
A tornado can cause catastrophic and extensive damage to all types of structures. For some, the damage requires a total rebuild. However, for the homes and buildings that are salvaged after a tornado, a detailed assessment by a qualified structural engineer is needed to determine the extent of structural damage, the repairability of the structure, and to assist with other repair recommendations related to the building envelope and required building code upgrades.
The tiny pinhole in the pipe elbow probably took more than twenty years to form and cause a leak, a day or two to be discovered, and less than an hour to be repaired. This recent claim involving corrosion of a pipe elbow on a home heating oil tank resulted in a very minor release of a few gallons of heating oil to the surrounding surface soil. The insured acted appropriately, the release was quickly investigated and repaired. Based on the size of the tank and volume of the release, state regulations did not apply; however, local regulators became concerned over the possibility of impact to shallow groundwater in the area. Although the shallow aquifer was not considered a source of drinking water, it was used extensively for irrigation. Furthermore, the property owner soon began to notice petroleum like odors inside the home/office necessitating relocation for a couple of days. After the repair of the leak, the situation was completely resolved in a few weeks with the excavation and removal of impacted soil from beneath a patio and a portion of the building adjoining the point of release. Fortunately, the release was discovered early, quickly repaired, and the volume of the spill was not sufficient to impact groundwater, which could have easily transported contaminants and associated vapors well beyond the boundaries of the insured's property.
Both large-scale catastrophe-induced losses and small-scale single event losses have the potential to impact employees, individuals, insurance personnel, general contracting restoration firms and associated property loss. In addition to the actual water-loss event, secondary losses can become equally as devastating depending on pre-existing and/or event-related building conditions, and the role the insured's take as part of required catastrophe restoration activities. During the water loss event, all project related information and environmental data generated is an integral part of the decision making process that may be disclosed at various stages to inform all the various "parties" involved with the project. All in all, a well-executed restoration project can minimize common delays and expenses of an ill-conceived and managed project.
Sectors of the construction industry are reporting resurgence and growth in 2013. Single and multi-family housing, commercial, institutional and public works construction is predicted to increase up to 28% in some areas. This is good news for the industry and the economy but the increase in construction activity has historically led to an increase in construction accidents.
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.
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.
Every year, approximately 3,600 workers are permanently disabled, and on average, one worker per day is killed, as a result of electrical incidents in the workplace.* To prevent these types of electrical injuries and deaths, building owners and managers should apply the safeguards included in NFPA 70E, the standard utilized by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for building electrical assessments. OSHA utilizes the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace to provide improved safety procedures for workers through proper warning labels, restricted access notification, personnel training and personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA compliance will minimize workplace injuries, accidents, illnesses, equipment damage, production losses, and legal costs, which are all avoidable and unnecessary factors in any business.
The world of fire investigations is always changing and EFI Global is active in its research and testing methods. In an effort to support insura nce, subrogation, loss prevention and litigation relating to losses, EFI Global's chemical laboratories regularly perform chemical analysis on new products to identify potential accelerants and igni tion sources.. Recently, EFI Global laboratories conducted proactive chemical testing on a new matchless fire starter. This commercially available product is marketed and used to start wood and campfires.. The results of EFI Global's testing revealed the limitations and significance if this product is used as an accelerant.
Financial institutions require the completion of environmental due diligence of a commercial real estate collateralized lending transaction for many reasons. They may wish to understand the environmental condition of the proposed collateral and ensure a Borrower's compliance with applicable regulations prior to making a loan; to reevaluate the collateral during a renewal or refinance transaction; to determine the collateral's condition at the time of a loan default; or to obtain information about an unexpected environmental condition encountered within the loan term.
Fire origin and cause investigation, and mold and asbestos testing of a six-story office building
EFI Global (EFI) was hired by a legal team representing a tire product manufacturer to replicate the use of a tire inflation product in an off-road tire. Litigation was prompted when the tire inflation product was used in an off-road tire that exploded and resulted in a fatality. Our team was asked to evaluate the product when used when used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions as written on the products label; when used in concert with pure oxygen, and when used in concert with compressed air.
Historically, fires and automobile accidents have been the primary types of property and casualty claims that presented a potential avenues of for subrogation. However, with the increased costs of mitigating the extent of water damage and reducing the potential for mold growth, claims involving large water losses have become another important area with subrogation potential.
Mechanical ventilation systems have evolved from passive gravity vents (circa 1900) by adding modifications to improve comfort, occupant health, and energy efficiency. Early on, the maintenance of the system basically related to making sure the furnace was on and the windows would open. If you were lucky the school might have draft deflectors on the windows so the wind would not blow directly on your head.
Following a hurricane, damages to a residential structure can range from structural distress, to small areas of mold growth to a total loss of the structure. Storm damage can affect multiple components of a structure including the roof, windows, siding, foundation and interior finishes. Wind or water is often the most common cause of damage to residential properties; however, there are many factors to consider when assessing the various causes of damage. Some of the factors include material use, age, condition and construction methods as well as type, location and extent of the damage. It is essential that a professional with hurricane damage assessment experience evaluate these factors to accurately define the cause.
One sunny spring morning, on a rural road just outside of Houston, Texas, Molly Jackson, a vibrant 16-year-old girl with a bright future and a new driver's license, was behind the wheel of her father's brand new Chevrolet C2500 crew cab pickup truck. At the same time, just seven seconds before she would draw her last breath, Rhonda Simmons, a 46-year old divorced mother of two teenagers, was approaching from the opposite direction in her sleek and sporty Pontiac Trans Am.
Editor's note: A trend to require more fire safety equipment in residences and nursing homes will reduce deaths and injuries, both among firefighters and the general public, says E. Metts Hardy, vice president/Fire Investigations for EFI Global (www.efiglobal.com), a Kingwood, Texas-based provider of engineering, fire investigation, environmental, accident reconstruction, and laboratory testing services.
Nationwide, water-loss claims continue to climb. In California alone, such claims have risen dramatically, with the percentage of homeowner claims growing from 24 percent in 1997 to 32 percent in 2001, costing insurers $1.7 billion. In a single year in California, between 2000 and 2001, claims rose $47 million. For some insurers, this meant that 40 percent of claim payments were for water losses.
Water damage is costly to both homeowners and insurance companies. It is estimated that the cost of household water damage in California, alone, exceeded $500 million for 2002. While the number of water-related claims varies year to year, the average amount paid for such claims increased steadily from $2,577 in 1988 to $3,646 in 2002.