Blaze Fire Investigation Blog

As an industry leader, BlazeFire fire investigators combine industry best practices with scientific knowledge, proven methodologies and experiential skill to deliver sound origin and cause opinions. We have years of experience finding the origin and cause of Structural, Vehicle, Marine and Hazardous Environment fires.

Industries we serve include Insurance, Legal and Manufacturing. Our consultations cover Large Loss Operations, Case Reviews and Code Interpretation.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Posted by on in Marine
Fire Investigation in Boat Storage Areas

As the boating season comes to an end, it is time for owners to have their pleasure and sporting craft stored for the winter months. Many people prefer indoor storage because it fully protects their boats from the weather, but they also like to work on their boats when they can’t be out on the water. When fire investigators are called to a scene in a boat storage area, they may find that something a boat owner did during their tinkering caused a fire that not only damaged their own boat, but those around it.

Fire Hazards in Boat Storage Area

The hazards inherent in a boat storage area are defined by a legal code but the guidelines in the code are either not known or ignored. For example, boats are supposed to be stored with gas tanks 75% or more full. This limits the vapor space that allows for expansion and contraction of the gases. A recent survey conducted by Blaze Fire Investigation revealed that most people leave their gas tanks less than 10% full. It seems counterintuitive, but this creates a hazard because there is a larger vapor space and vapors don’t stay put, they migrate. All it takes is an open flame like a cigarette or a torch, or the use of an electrical tool and you have an ignition source that can cause an explosion.

Flammable Fumes and Faulty Electrical Work

In addition to fuel vapors, boat owners use a variety of flammable liquids to clean and refinish the surfaces on their boats. Power tools can provide an ignition source by causing sparks. Excessively long extension cords that are wound over, under and around the other vessels parked in the building can also be a potential ignition source. The guidelines in NFPA 303 regarding electrical systems in wet locations are complex and unless an owner is also a professional electrical, they probably won’t be able to understand and follow them. Still, owners work on the wiring and electrical components of their boats, creating hazards when they use non-marine aftermarket parts and incorrect wiring techniques.

Investigating Large Losses in Boat Storage Facilities

When Blaze Fire Investigators get a case that involves a boat storage area, it often represents a large loss. Boats are stored in close proximity during the off-season which makes it easy for a fire to spread to neighboring vessels in a very short amount of time. Fire Investigators’ knowledge of the environment in boat storage facilities helps them to move through all aspects of the case. They expertly manage the scene and assure that everyone who needs to be on call for the investigation is included.

Marine Fire Investigation Specialty

Fire investigation services for boats, docks and storage facilities require special certifications and skills. Contact Blaze Fire Investigation to assign a project or to learn more about how we help clients find the answers they need.

Hits: 4016
Knowledge of Boat and Dock Systems Vital to Fire Investigation

Marine fire investigators need to understand boat and dock systems, how they are interrelated and how they function in order to accurately determine origin and cause of a fire incident. The ability to read boat schematics allows investigators to look at the arrangement of bulkheads and electrical systems in their analysis and point to potential causes of failure. The effects of vibration, corrosion and the addition of after-market parts can create fire hazards that the investigator can pinpoint because he knows what should and should not be present in the construction of the vessel.

Most boat fires are caused by electrical issues

Electrical systems on boats run many systems - from pumps and blowers, to heating and air conditioning. Wires run throughout the boat where they can be possible ignition sources. It is possible for a fuel leak to cause a fire in a location that is not close to the source of the leak. Fuel vapors can travel to the place where vibrations may have chaffed the wiring, or corrosion has eaten through the wire coating, creating an ignition source. Boats are designed with ventilation systems to remove dangerous vapors but sometimes these systems fail because of lack of maintenance, or lack of knowledge of the boat owner about their proper use.

Many owners do not themselves, understand the intricate electrical systems on their boats. They unknowingly create fire hazards when repairs have been made that don’t take into account actual power requirements or use marine approved wiring and materials. Improper fueling procedures cause fire hazards when the boat owner doesn’t realize the necessity of blowers to vent the vapors from the boat interior. As with any fire investigation, interviewing the boat or dock owner and any witnesses provides important information that, when combined with forensic analysis, leads to a confident conclusion of origin and cause.

Dock systems may be the cause of boat fires in harbor

A pleasure craft is not just a hobby for many people, it’s their home. Just as a camper plugs in to water and power at a camp ground, a boat does the same at a marina slip. The water and power systems on the dock need to be considered when examining a fire that has occurred while in harbor. A failure in the installation of an electrical supply could result in reverse polarity into a vessel or a ground fault that energizes the surrounding water.

Fire incidents that occur in a marina have the potential to create very large losses. The close proximity of the vessels, connected by the dock system, can allow fires to travel quickly. If an electrical malfunction energizes the surrounding water, the potential for serious injury or death is very real. The pleasure craft themselves represent a very large investment. All involved are interested in discovering the answer to the origin and cause of a fire to determine proper liability and prevent future accidents.

Blaze Fire investigators apply expert boat and dock knowledge

The marine fire investigators at Blaze Fire have the certifications, credentials and resources that are needed to determine origin and cause for fires that occur on boat and dock systems. They also have expert knowledge of how marine vessels and docks are constructed that helps them to quickly and accurately provide the answers that clients need to get their best outcome.

Hits: 5778

Posted by on in Marine
Marine Fire Investigation Scenes

You might think that it’s redundant to talk about the scene of a boat fire, but marine fire investigation includes fire scenes that are above, below and out of the water.

The fire scene – below the water

Because the scene of a boat fire is usually on the water, there are inherent difficulties that are present in the analysis and recovery of the damaged vessel. If the boat has sunk, the investigation needs to begin by documenting the scene with underwater photographs. Depending upon how deep the water is, the spread diameter of debris can be quite extensive. In addition to providing valuable information about what happened to the boat, the photo documentation operates as a check system to assure that all possible artifacts have been recovered. Because of the movement of water, and the potential presence of vegetation and rugged underwater terrain, it isn’t always possible to collect all debris but that is the goal for this part of the marine fire investigation.

The fire scene – above the water

When a scene includes a vessel that is still on the water, investigators need to be cautious with their movements, determining if the boat is safe to enter. In addition, fluids within the various systems will leak into the void spaces in the vessel and migrate into the surrounding water creating an environmental issue.  Containment of any spill will be necessary as will notification to the area Environmental Protection Agent or Water Reclamation District.

On or under the water, the next part of the investigation will take place on a hard deck. The process of moving the boat to the hard deck is complex requiring the expertise of marine salvagers. The weight of water from a split or sunk hull adds to the difficulty in bringing it to the surface or moving out of a marine or dock area. This process could further damage the boat as it is pulled from the water causing evidence to be lost. Custody of the boat is determined by the authority of jurisdiction. That authority will make decisions about the recovery process; who has custody of the watercraft; and what measures are necessary to assure security.

The fire scene – at a storage facility

When a boat fire occurs when it is in a storage facility, handling the scene requires procedures that would be similar to those used for an incident that involved a car in a garage. However, knowledge of boat owner and yacht yard common practices are key to guiding interviews and analysis that will help to uncover the origin and cause of the fire. These common practices could include the way the boat was stored, and the methods and materials that were being used to work on the boats when the fire started. With boats being stored in close proximity, work on one vessel could potentially provide the spark that ignites a vapor source that originates from another vessel.

Marine fire investigation experts

Marine Fire Investigation is a specialty that is offered by Blaze Fire Investigation. Contact us to assign a project or to learn more about our fire investigation and forensic engineering services.

Hits: 6838