Oct 20, 2015

Solid Fuel Burning Appliance Fires: Is Your Expert Qualified?

It’s the dead of winter and a homeowner is relaxing one evening in front of their fireplace or wood stove when they detect a stronger than usual odour of smoke. Initially they don’t think much of it, but it gets stronger and stronger. Eventually, a crackling sound can be heard within the walls, but aside from the fire within the fireplace or wood stove, no other fire is observed. Before long, the entire roof of the home is fully involved as the homeowner stands outside waiting for the fire department to arrive, wondering how this could have happened. They contact their insurance company, who then hire a fire investigation expert. This expert completes an investigation and provides an opinion. Was a probable cause determined? If yes, is this opinion reliable? Will it withstand the test of a serious challenge in the courtroom? To answer these questions you need to assess your expert. Is your expert qualified to provide an opinion on the appropriate use and installation of a wood burning appliance and the construction and installation of its venting system? Does your expert have the appropriate training or are they certified to inspect this type of installation? Is this expert qualified to comment on other possible ignition sources that may be present, such as an electrical failure of some kind? If you ask these questions – and I think you definitely should – and you hear answers like…

“For years I have sat on the Technical Committee CSA B365 – Installation Code for Solid-Fuel-Burning Appliances.”

“I have successfully completed numerous Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) courses, earning WETT Certification.”

“I have completed training specifically for the investigation of solid-fuel-burning appliance fires.”

“I’m an electrical engineer and have completed 1000+ investigations requiring the detailed inspection

and analysis of building electrical systems, electrical devices, and appliances.”

…you may have found your expert. If you hear none or only one of the above, you may want to rethink if this is the expert for you. Having THE expert, as opposed to having AN expert, is paramount to successful subrogation. If you have any questions regarding fire investigations, please give Jason D’Ornellas or Vincent Rochon a call at Roar Engineering (1-844-235-8465).

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