Long Hydraulic Hoses Cause Trencher Fire

Heavy equipment used on construction sites are subject to all kinds of conditions.  Those conditions include, bad weather, rocky terrain, and remote locations.  All of these factors can play a part in determining whether a vehicle will ignite and burn.  We were recently asked to examine a trenching machine that was destroyed by fire.  The machine that was examined is shown below.

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One of the most common causes of heavy equipment fires is hydraulic fluid leaks.  It is well known that hydraulic fluid is flammable and will ignite with the correct mixture of air and an ignition source.  Such sources can include engines and transmissions as well as electrical devices.  Although these are some of the more common factors, sometimes unusual circumstances can also lead to a piece of equipment being destroyed.  In the case of the fire damaged trencher, one of the findings included hydraulic hoses being long enough to reach the ground.  As a result, while the trencher was in operation, dirt was actually burying the hoses.  At the same time, the movement of the machine, as the trench was dug, was pulling the hoses through the dirt and causing the hoses to tear.  Hydraulic fluid leakage was not only inevitable but, so was the possibility of fire.  When hydraulic hoses have to be replaced, the lengths of the hoses are a maintenance issue.  It is extremely important that hoses of correct length are installed,  If the hose is short and fits tight between connections, the stress imposed by forcing the hose to stretch coupled with the stress of pressurization, can cause premature failure.  Likewise, a hose that is longer than necessary will move around and possibly make contact with solid objects that can wear or cut the hose jacket, weakening the wall.  As in this case, the dirt and rocks contributed to the weakening of the hoses found beneath the conveyor section, on the ground, and the subsequent release of hydraulic fluid that ultimately ignited and destroyed the trencher.  The hoses that were found are also shown below.

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Toyota Recalls Hybrids

Toyota Motor Corporation has announced the recall of approximately 2.4 million vehicles.  It is estimated that 830,000 vehicles were sold in North America.  These vehicles are gasoline engine hybrids that can stall as a result of a problem with the “failsafe” switch over driving mode.  When the vehicles fail to switch driving modes, a loss of power can occur resulting in a stalled condition.  Although Toyota is not aware of any crashes, an unexpected stall could cause the driver to lose control and crash.  The affected vehicles apply to Prius and Auris models manufactured between October 2008 and November 2014.  For additional information, consumers can contact Toyota by calling 1-800-331-4331.

GM Recalls for Loss of Power Steering

General Motors (GM) has announced that it is recalling 1.2 million pick up trucks and SUVs due to a temporary loss of power steering.  The recall applies to 2015 Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles.  When the power steering disappears, the vehicle can become difficult to control increasing the risk of a crash.  GM has received 30 reports of crashes and two injuries.  GM will update the power steering module software free of charge for owners of the recalled vehicles.  For additional information, owners can contact GM by calling 1-866-522-9559.

 

Fire Hazard Prompts Ford to Recall 2 Million F-150s

The National Highway Safety Administration, NHTSA, has announced that Ford has recalled approximately 2 million F-150 pick up trucks.  The recall applies to 2015 -2018 F-150 regular and super crew cab pick up trucks.  The seatbelt pretensioner can generate sparks when activated during a sudden stop.  The sparks can ignite flammable material located inside the “B” pillar post including carpeting and insulation.  Ford has also identified the manufacturers of the seatbelts.  Joyson supplied the seatbelts for the 2015 to 2017 models while ZF supplied the belts for the 2018 year models.  Approximately 1.62 million vehicles were sold in the United States, 340,000 vehicles were sold in Canada and 37,000 were sold in Mexico.  The recall is expected to begin on September 24, 2018 with Ford notifying owners.  The Ford recall identification number for this recall is 18S27.  NHTSA’s campaign number is 18V568000.  For additional information, consumers can contact Ford by calling 1-866-436-7332 or visiting Ford’s website at www.ford.com.

 

 

 

Gas Logs and Soot Damage

This is a subject that I have blogged about in the past.  Gas log sets are very popular with homeowners and tend to create or add to a warm atmosphere when used.  However, soot damage is continuing to occur because manufacturers continue to build log sets that burn natural gas or propane incompletely.  That is, unburned carbon is escaping in the combustion gases and settling on walls, ceilings, furniture, clothing and anything else that happens to present a cool surface.  The science of combustion of gaseous fuels is well known and by no means new technology.  It has long been recognized that a blue flame is indicative of the closest to complete combustion that can be achieved.  The secret is mixing enough air with the fuel to obtain the correct mixture.  When the correct mixture is obtained, a blue flame results.  In contrast, flames with yellow tips or long yellow flames are indicators of incomplete combustion.  These are the flames that produce unburned carbon that ultimately settles on various surfaces as soot.  There is nothing that a homeowner can do to change the burning characteristics of a log set as the appearance is an inherent design.  If the log set is installed in a ventless fireplace, 100% of the products of combustion will enter the living space.  As a result, all of the soot produced will also enter whatever space the set faces.  If the set is installed in a fireplace with a chimney, then it is possible to control the ventilation of the gases by opening the chimney damper and allowing the gases to escape.  Instead of entering the home, soot usually travels up the chimney and settles on the walls and damper instead of the interior.

If you are unlucky enough to have soot damage, I recommend doing the following: first, take plenty of pictures of the places where soot has been deposited.  It is possible that you might be called upon to prove that soot damaged specific belongings.  Second, notify your insurance carrier.  Homeowners policies usually give policyholders a toll-free telephone number to call in the event that a claim has to be filed.  If you can’t find the number, call your insurance agent.  Your agent also has access to the insurance carrier and can report the claim or tell you what to do.  Third, start making a list of the damaged items.  The adjuster that will be assigned to your case will need to have an itemized list of damages so that they can begin to prepare estimates for those things that can be repaired or will have to be replaced.  Fourth, be prepared to have the gas logs set become the center of controversy.  Your carrier will most likely want to have the set examined by an engineer in order to establish a product defect.  The manufacturer also has the right to examine the set.  In doing so, both sides will have questions and will want access to your home and specifically, the area where the set was located.  Both sides will need documentation in the form of the owner’s manual, purchase invoice, and the metal identification plate that comes with the log set and is NOT supposed to be removed.  Fifth, the log set will become evidence and must be preserved as such.  The engineer hired by your carrier will want to take possession of the log set and place it in storage in anticipation of further examination or for use in court, if the need arises.  Sixth, cases can take months if not years to settle.  So, don’t expect to get the log set back anytime soon after it is taken.  Seventh, if you replace the set with another gas log set, remember that the possibility of soot damage returns again.  The only way to minimize the possibility of soot damage is to limit usage times to short periods or stop using the set altogether.

 

Contents of Aerosol Cans can be Flammable!

During a recent vehicle fire investigation, it was discovered that the owner had been carrying at least eight aerosol cans of different products during the hottest month of the year so far.  The fire resulted in the destruction of a Toyota Highlander that was only months old.  This is a perfect example that illustrates the fact that people will forget that the contents are flammable and that the potential for explosion and fire is very real.  In this particular case, some of the contents of these cans were identified as Raid Multi 7 Insect Spray, Bayer Advanced Home Insect Spray and Aqua Net Hair Spray.  The cans that were recovered are shown in the photograph below.  It was also determined that at least one of the cans exploded prior to the fire.  It is imperative to remember that when products in aerosol cans are purchased, they should be stored in a cool and dry place, not left in a hot vehicle.  Not all aerosol cans contain flammable ingredients but, if you are not going to read the label, then treat them as flammable and store them accordingly.

 

 

 

 

So You Want to be Connected….

In today’s world, one of the main buzzwords is “smart”.  This word usually refers to a device that has the intelligence to identify your next request and act to provide the information almost instantaneously.  In order to do so, the device has to be connected to the internet.  Right now, “smart” devices are limited mainly to cell phones and computers.  I just watched a webinar that talked about the “home ecosystem” needed to form a “smart home”.  However, almost nothing was said about security.  Imagine connecting your kitchen appliances to the internet.  From any remote location, you could start a load of laundry, do a load of dishes, or cook dinner and have it ready by the time you get home.  Similarly, you could adjust the temperature of your thermostat so that your home will be cooled or heated when your family gets home.  It all sounds great. But, there is a downside.  No matter how far technology advances and no matter how secure networks become, hackers (as they are known today) will ALWAYS be around to try and break the system.  As long as people are connected, hackers will try to steal information.  With that information, imagine someone taking control of your home, whether it’s listening in, watching you, or controlling your devices.  It’s up to you to decide whether you want such devices in your home.  If you don’t mind somebody spying on you, that’s fine.  Remember, those ads that pop up on your phone or computer just when you happen to be thinking of buying the same item, didn’t just pop up by coincidence.  They popped up because someone has captured information about something that interests you.

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