Condenser Water Piping Seminar

Two of the insurance industry’s biggest risk groups are builder’s risk and professional liability for architects and engineers.  Both of these groups are involved in the design and installation of HVAC as well as process cooling equipment.  We recently attended a seminar on the design and installation of condenser water piping.  The condensers that are referred to are large pieces of equipment that are used in conjunction with cooling towers and large tonnage refrigeration machines.  A number of problems can arise if the piping is not considered correctly.  For example, the life of a water circulating pump can be reduced dramatically if the friction loss through the piping exceeds the capability of the pump.  In addition, it is possible to introduce air into the suction line of the pump if the tower bypass is not done properly.  The net result will be flow instability.  Freeze protection can be another problem if not considered carefully.  In some applications, water is drained from the tower when subfreezing temperatures are expected.  But, if for some reason, water stays in a part of the piping and then freezes, the result will be a burst water pipe.  If the failure is not detected prior to start-up, then a large amount of water will escape from the system and clean-up can be become very costly, in addition to the piping repair.  These are the kinds of problems for which claims are filed and lawsuits can result. 

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Recalls – How Long do They Last?

Have you ever wondered how long a recall lasts?  When the government or a manufacturer orders a vehicle recall, there are usually hundreds if not thousands of vehicles involved.  Sometimes, the numbers are in the millions.  Any way you look at it, recalls cost manufacturers a lot of money.  According to Federal Law, the statute of limitations for vehicle recalls is 10 years.  There are two conditions where the statute could expire earlier: the manufacturer goes out of business or the parts needed to make repairs are no longer manufactured.  There is one other thing that owners need to be aware of and that is that for a no-cost recall repair, the vehicle has to be less than 10 years old as of the date that the defect was determined.  On the other hand, other types of recalls such as appliance, lawn and garden equipment, furniture and toys remain permanently in effect from the date of issue.  There is NO expiration date for recalls of items other than vehicles.  If a recall is discovered months or years after the original recall date, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends contacting the manufacturer and discussing the situation with them.  If the problem cannot be resolved to each party’s satisfaction, then contact the CPSC and report the problem.  The CPSC can be reached by calling 1-800-638-2772.     

Ford Fusion Recall

The Ford Motor Company has announced that it has recalled 2013 – 2016 Fusion vehicles equipped with 2.5 liter engines as a result of a faulty transmission shifter cable.  The vehicle can roll away if the transmission is not in the “park” position when the driver exits the vehicle.  The parking brake should be applied before leaving the vehicle in order to prevent a roll away occurrence.  Approximately 270,000 vehicles in North America are affected.  It has been determined that the bushing that holds the shifter cable to the transmission can degrade over time and allow the cable to separate from the transmission.  When the driver moves the shift lever into “park” position, the transmission might not shift into the “park” position leaving the vehicle in a condition to potentially roll away, unattended.  A moving and unattended vehicle has the potential to cause personal injury to pedestrians as well as property damage.  While the remedy is still under development, Ford expects to begin recalling vehicles on May 28, 2019.  For additional information, owners can contact Ford by calling 1-866-436-7332 and reference recall # 18V471.

Vehicular Fire in Hayfield

The photograph below shows what can happen when a vehicle is driven through a hayfield.  Although the owner of the truck didn’t believe it could happen to him, he is now a firm believer.  The fire grew so quickly that the driver was lucky to get out of the truck as the flames were growing alongside the driver’s side door.  The fire occurred even though the ground was saturated after recent rain made the ground so soft that the truck got stuck in the mud.  While trying to extricate himself, the engine was heating the grass beneath the engine compartment.  Since the grass was already dry, it didn’t take long to ignite.  The only thing that kept the fire from spreading to the rest of the hayfield was the quick response of the fire department.  The heat that ignited the fire could also have come form the transmission and exhaust piping, including the catalytic converter.  If you have to drive through a field with tall, dry grass, don’t stop until you can get off the grass.  Be aware that stopping your vehicle over dry grass and allowing the engine to continue running can be just as bad as shutting down the engine while positioned over a tall patch of dry grass.  If you get stuck, get out of your vehicle, get away and then get help.      

Vehicular Fire in Hayfield

Ford Recalls Trucks Due to Fire Hazard

The Ford Motor Company is recalling its full sized pickups due to a problem with an engine block heater.  The recall involves approximately 874,000 trucks.  More specifically, the recall applies to 2015 to 2019 F150, 2017 to 2019 F250, F350, F450 and F550 “Super Duty” models.  The problem with the heater is actually in the heater connector cable.  Water and other contaminants can get into the connector causing corrosion to occur and subsequently short circuit the cable.  Short circuiting of the cable can lead to a fire.  Dealerships will inspect and repair or replace the cable, at no charge.  The recall was expected to begin on January 7th of this year.  For additional information, consumers can contact Ford by calling 1-800-392-3673 or visiting www.ford.com and clicking on recalls at the bottom of the page.  Ford’s identifying number for this campaign is 18S45. 

         


What Every Property Adjuster Should Know About …

Fire Investigations:

  1. Fire investigations are governed by NFPA 921, published by the National Fire Protection Association.  NFPA 921 is a guide for use by investigators and is not a legal document.
  2. Fire Investigators are certified as Certified Fire Investigators (CFI) or Certified Fire and Explosion Investigators (CFEI).
  3. In the state of Tennessee, fire investigators are also required to be licensed by the state as private investigators.  If necessary, check your state to see if additional licenses are required.
  4. Fire investigation of a structure (or vehicle) is the responsibility of the law enforcement authorities.  Only after the authorities have released “the scene” can a civil investigation proceed.
  5.  Acceptable conclusions for the cause of a fire include intentional, accidental, and undetermined.
  6. There are times when the cause and origin of a fire are not as important as determining if your insured can be implicated in the cause.  Situations do arise where several parties are affected by a massive fire.  Although the cause and origin might not be determinable, it is prudent to determine if the insured can be held culpable.  Sometimes it’s about whether a product is under warranty or who did the work.  These scenarios assume that a fire cannot be attributed to arson or vandalism.
  7. Evidence must be handled carefully.  All parties identified in connection with a fire investigation have to be given notice and allowed to participate in any examination of evidence taken from a fire scene.

The pictures below serve to illustrate some of the investigations that we have been involved with.

Fire Damaged marina, several boats involved, cause and origin undetermined, insured boat owner eliminated as potentially culpable party

Paper Shredder thought to have been the cause and origin of a residential fire due to poor maintenance

Dryer Fire due to accumulation of lint

Fire in senior living center due to electrical short in room A/C unit

Residential structure explosion due to broken gas line

Residential structure fire due to misuse of stove

Defective Products

  1. A defective product is one which is unreasonably dangerous and cannot be used for its intended purpose.
  2. The test for a defective product is that it had to have had the defect at the time it left the possession of the manufacturer.
  3. Not only can be manufacturer be held liable for manufacturing a defective product but, anyone in the distribution/handling chain can also be held liable.
  4. Many times, a recall search can identify a recalled product. The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains a website and database that lists products that have been identified as hazardous to consumers and recalled. The CPSC website address is http://www.cpsc.gov.
  5. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also maintains a website and database that has identified defective cars and trucks. Their website is located at http://www.nhtsa.gov. The NHTSA is searchable by vehicle make and year model as well as vehicle identification number.
  6. When products have been recalled, investigation of defective products cases becomes a much simpler matter because most of the work has already been done. However, when a product has not been recalled, then the investigator must determine if the product meets the criteria given in #1 and 2 above.

Hyundai Recalls Vehicles Due to Fire Risk

Hyundai Motor America has recalled approximately one half million vehicles as a result of engine problems that pose a fire risk.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that approximately 380,000 Kia Soul and Sportage vehicles will be recalled by Hyundai.  The Kia Soul vehicles are equipped with 1.6 liter engines and can operate at higher than normal exhaust gas temperatures due to abnormal combustion.  The elevated exhaust temperatures can damage the catalytic converter as well as ignite combustible material such as oil, fuel and plastic.  The affected year models are 2012 through 2016.  NHTSA has also announced that Hyundai is recalling approximately 120,000 Tucson vehicles for a potential oil pan leak.  The Kia Sportage is also being recalled for this same problem.  Oil leakage in the presence of an ignition source, such as a hot engine, can pose a fire hazard risk.  The affected year models are 2011 through 2012 for the Sportage and 2011 through 2013 for Tucson vehicles.

For additional information, owners can contact Hyundai Motor America at 855-671-3059 or visiting https://hyundaiengineinfo.com.

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