The Expert Report - Modern Stitching

The modern forensic investigator's most commonly used tool is the digital camera. With digital cameras, users aren't limited by rolls of film with picture counts in the ten's but rather by gigabytes of data on memory cards. While large numbers of photos can be taken of a scene, evidence or other various artifacts, there are times where it would be beneficial to the investigator to stitch multiple digital images together to create a single large image for ease of review or presentation. This episode of The Expert Report discusses and demonstrates an easy to use and free-to-download option: Microsoft ICE.

Microsoft ICE can be downloaded here:


http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/u...

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The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

Consumer Product Safety Commission - Recalls

Here are 9 fire related recalls and 3 shock related recalls published by the CPSC. Please be aware of potential problems with these products and share with others to spread the word.

SolarWorld Recalls Connectors Sold with Solar Panels Due to Electrical Shock Hazard (Recall Alert)
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Solar-World-Recalls-Connectors-Sold-…

OPW Recalls Gas Station Hose Swivel Connectors Due to Fire, Explosion Hazards
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/OPW-Recalls-Gas-Station-Hose-Swivel-…

Vecaro LifeStyle Recalls Self-Balancing Scooters/Hoverboards Due to Fire Hazard
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Vecaro-LifeStyle-Recalls-Self-Balanc…

Power Adapters Sold with LectroFan Sound Machines Recalled by ASTI Due to Shock Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Amazon.com (Recall Alert)
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Power-Adapters-Sold-with-LectroFan-S…

Polaris Recalls Sportsman 850 and 1000 All-Terrain Vehicles Due to Burn and Fire Hazards
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Polaris-Recalls-Sportsman-850-and-10…

Battery Chargers for XBOX ONE Video Game Controllers Recalled by Performance Designed Products Due to Burn Hazard
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Battery-Chargers-for-XBOX-ONE-Video-…

R.W. Beckett Recalls Fuel Oil Valves Due to Fire Hazard
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/2…/RW-Beckett-Recalls-Fuel-Oil-Valves

Goodman Recalls Air Handlers Due to Electrical Shock Hazard
https://www.cpsc.gov/Reca…/2017/Goodman-Recalls-Air-Handlers

Polaris Recalls RZR and GENERAL Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles Due to Burn and Fire Hazards
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Polaris-Recalls-RZR-and-GENERAL-Recr…

Philips Lighting Expands Recall of Metal Halide Lamps Due to Fire and Laceration Hazards
https://www.cpsc.gov/…/Philips-Lighting-Expands-Recall-of-M…

STIHL Recalls Chain Saws Due to Fire and Burn Hazards
https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/STIHL-Recalls-Chain-Saws

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The Expert Report - Alloying

As discussed in NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, alloying is a phenomena that that can occur during the course of a fire and its effects seen later by investigators during the course of a scene examination. Although many in the field of fire investigation have seen the end results, there are not many opportunities for an investigator to witness alloying as it happens. Watch the latest episode of The Expert Report - Alloying as we conduct a demonstration of alloying of copper and aluminum and further discuss the science behind this.

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The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

The Expert Report - Accident Reconstruction: Event Data Recorder

An Event Data Recorder (EDR) is an electronic control system that captures and records electronic information related to an event during vehicle operation such as a vehicle crash, airbag deployment or other significant event. These systems are found on the majority of commercial and passenger vehicles produced today and in many vehicles dating back as far as 1994. The data stored for an event can play a key role in the investigation of motor vehicle accidents.


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The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

The Expert Report - Digital Documentation Part II

With modern technological advances, long standing tools are quickly being replaced such as the pen and paper with the stylus and tablet. These modern technologies can improve our ability to document fire, explosion and accident scenes. There are numerous applications that a forensic investigator can use to assist with their modern, digital documentation. Follow along with this two part series that introduce viewers to four applications that are regularly utilized by Schaefer Engineering for their digital documentation. Part two of the series discusses the usefulness and features of TouchDraw and NoteTaker HD. Additionally, viewers will be shown how to combine documents created in the first three applications into a single document within NoteTaker HD.

The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

The Expert Report - Digital Documentation Part I

With modern technological advances, long standing tools are quickly being replaced such as the pen and paper with the stylus and tablet. These modern technologies can improve our ability to document fire, explosion and accident scenes. There are numerous applications that a forensic investigator can use to assist with their modern, digital documentation. Follow along with this two part series that introduce viewers to four applications that are regularly utilized by Schaefer Engineering for their digital documentation. Part one of the series discusses the usefulness and features of Google Earth and a PDF conversion application

 

The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

X-Ray Imaging

X-ray imaging is one of many tools available to the modern-day forensic investigator. In certain circumstances, x-ray images can provide informative, internal views of components, debris, and systems. "X-rays" can provide an investigator with the orientation and configuration of internal components of a product and/or system that might be otherwise difficult to ascertain, even with destructive disassembly.

Consumer Product Safety Commission - Recalls

Here are two fire related recalls and one shock related recall from the CPSC. Fire investigators please take note of the Pelican flashlight and battery pack recall. Some of you may own one of these and should be aware of this hazard.

Pelican Products Recalls Flashlights and Replacement Battery Packs Due to Fire Hazard
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Pelican-Products-Recalls-Flashlights-And-Replacement-Battery-Packs/

United Pet Group Recalls Top Fin Power Filters for Aquariums Due to Shock Hazard; Sold Exclusively at PetSmart
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/United-Pet-Group-Recalls-Top-Fin-Power-Filters-for-Aquariums/

Ambient Weather Expands Recall of Radios Due to Fire Hazard
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Ambient-Weather-Recalls-Radios/

The Expert Report - Forensic Corrosion

Materials analysis can be an important aspect of your forensic investigation. Materials behavior and failures could be causative, revealing of a cause or merely the result of a failure. A forensic investigator may need to carefully assess the involvement or lack of involvement of materials in the role of an incident.

 

The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

The Expert Report - Product Abuse

Possible causes of fires, explosions, or accidents can include improper installation, misapplication and even abuse of a product. It is important for a forensic investigator to not only understand the proper use of a product but to also understand what the consequences of improper use of a product can result in.

 

The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

The Expert Report - The Premiere

Schaefer Engineering introduces a new series of online videos, The Expert Report, in which we will share our knowledge and experience with you through informative tutorials and exciting demonstrations. Keep an eye out for future episodes. You won't want to miss a single one!

 

The information presented in The Expert Report is provided without warranty or guarantee and is subject to edit or revision. It is the responsibility of the viewer to appropriately utilize and apply the general information provided in this episode to their specific applications.

Cellulose Insulation - Part 4

Cellulose insulation consists of shredded recycled paper stock, such as newspaper or cardboard, that is chemically treated to satisfy ASTM combustion and ignition tests. However, these chemical treatments serve as retardants and not preventatives. Numerous fire research sources discuss the ability of cellulose insulation to ignite and smolder. However, an investigator should understand how the data provided by these sources applies and relates to actual applications and installations present at a fire scene.

Testing was conducted to determine the ignition and combustion characteristics of a sample of cellulose insulation gradually heated within an oven cavity. In this testing, specimens of insulation included samples of approximately four year old, previously installed cellulose insulation and samples of new-from-the-package insulation from two different insulation manufacturers. In addition to these tests, samples of shredded, untreated newspaper were also heated to provide a comparison to cellulose insulation and what effects its chemical treatments have on ignition and combustion.

Temperature data during testing was collected via thermocouples mounted in multiple locations throughout the tested sample including one thermocouple mounted in the center of the sample. Once prepared, the sample was placed into the oven cavity and heated utilizing a rate of temperature increase of approximately 3.6 °C (6.4 °F) per minute as measured by the centered thermocouple. The temperature data was monitored until a rate of temperature increase at the centered thermocouple exceeded the input rate of temperature increase and was self-sustaining. Smoldering combustion without visible flame was present in the cellulose insulation samples while the shredded newspaper samples eventually resulted in flaming combustion of the sample.

Following completion of the testing, overlaying the time-temperature curves produced by the data acquired during testing, as shown in the attached image, revealed the temperature, 246 °C (475 °F), at which a self-sustained, increased rate of temperature rise occurred. These time-temperature curves were sufficiently similar regardless of the sample tested including the shredded, untreated newspaper. This self-sustained, increased rate of temperature rise represented ignition of the test sample and resulted in eventual combustion occurring within the sample

Cellulose Insulation - Part 3

Cellulose insulation is commonly blown or sprayed into attic spaces utilizing purpose-built equipment at depths between eight to fourteen inches. This equipment breaks apart the cellulose insulation, typically available in a compressed bale form, in a receiving hopper and utilizes a pneumatic blower to convey the material from the hopper through a length of tubing. The cellulose insulation is then discharged from this tubing into the space requiring insulation. This equipment is available to commercial applicators and it can even be rented by homeowners through many home improvement stores found in nearly any city within the United States. Many attics of residential buildings contain tight or confined spaces, can be very hot in summer months and provide minimal ventilation. Combine these attic characteristics with a significant amount of dust produced during the cellulose insulation application process and the task of installing a seemingly simple product becomes difficult and dirty. As such, safeguards are necessary to prevent the blown-in insulation from being deposited in areas where it is not supposed to be.

Cellulose Insulation - Part 2

The critical radiant flux test for cellulose insulation “measures the critical radiant flux at the point at which the flame advances the farthest. It provides a basis for estimating one aspect of fire exposure behavior for exposed attic floor insulation.” The smoldering combustion test “determines the resistance of the insulation to smolder under specific laboratory conditions.” This test is conducted utilizing a lit natural tobacco cigarette with a typical heat output of 4 to 6 watts, lit end upward, in an open, snug fitting cavity within a sample of cellulose insulation. Combined, these tests provide a measure of cellulose insulation’s resistance to flaming combustion at specific levels of radiant heat flux and ignition by a cigarette in specific laboratory environments. To meet these ASTM specifications, manufacturers of cellulose insulation commonly apply borax and boric acid in a dry powder form. The borax works to retard flaming ignition and flame spread while the boric acid lessens the smoldering potential. However, studies have shown that, regardless of amounts present, the boric acid will only reduce the speed of smoldering and not prevent smoldering from initiating. The insulation may well be compliant to all applicable standards and still be ignited and smolder.

Cellulose Insualtion - Part 1

Cellulosic Fiber Loose-Fill Thermal Insulation, or Cellulose Insulation, is basically a chemically treated, recycled cellulosic fiber such as shredded newspaper and/or cardboard. This insulation is most commonly used in attics and other enclosed spaces of dwellings and other framed buildings. The included image shows a sample of commonly available cellulose insulation whose base stock is shredded, recycled newspaper. It is not uncommon to find debris such as plastic bags, likely a result of the use of recycled products, in the insulation.

ASTM International standards specify characteristics that cellulose insulation must meet in the following categories: design density, corrosiveness, critical radiant flux, fungi resistance, moisture vapor sorption, odor emission, smoldering combustion and thermal resistance. The critical radiant flux and smoldering combustion categories of the standards relate specifically to the ignition and combustion of cellulose insulation.

Keep an eye out for future posts with even more information!