Volume 34, Issue 2 (March 1989)
A Review of Electrical Fire Analysis
This is a book intended for fire investigators but is also of interest to forensic scientists, insurance adjusters, or attorneys who may have occasion to deal with fires involving electrical equipment. As the author points out, nearly all fires involve damage to some sort of appliance, and suspicion often falls (rightly or wrongly) on the mysterious forces of electricity as the source of ignition. The author, an independent electrical engineer with several decades of experience at Battelle Laboratories and as a consultant to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has examined thousands of samples of wiring and equipment. It is that considerable experience which he shares in this book. It is not an exhaustive study of all the electrical, mechanical, and chemical effects that interact in fires, but a straightforward exposition of one expert's experience and knowledge. The text is written in an informal, conversational style in the first person, which is sometimes distracting, but it does make reading it quite easy. There are occasions, for instance, when the author freely admits he does not know the reasons for a particular phenomenon. At these times the total absence of literature citations is most acutely noticeable since the reader is breezily dismissed without a clue as to where one might seek more technical information.