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.

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Stop Using LayZ Board Hoverboards!

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a warning to consumers to stop using the LayZ Board hoverboard because of a dangerous fire safety hazard. The warning was issued in a press release dated May 1, 2017.  The hoverboard is equipped with a lithium ion battery which has a tendency to overheat when charging.  If the battery overheats, it can also lead to a fire.  The CPSC has found evidence indicating that the hoverboard was involved in a house fire that took the lives of two young girls on March 10 of this year.  According to the press release, 3000 hoverboards were imported from Shenzhen China.  However, no model or serial number information was provided with the press release.  The LayZ Board is two wheeled, battery powered, and self balancing unit equipped with a balancing platform for the rider’s feet.  The hoverboard does NOT have a handlebar.  The name “LayZ Board” also appears on the front of the unit.  A photograph of the unit appears below.  It should be noted that there is a similar product on the market entitled “Lazyboard” hoverboards.  This product is an entirely different product and has nothing to do with this notice.  For additional information, consumers can contact the CPSC by calling 1-800-638-2772 or visiting the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov.

LayZBoard Hoverboard

Gas Station Hose Swivel Connectors Recalled

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has announced the recall, by OPW, of 824,000 of its fuel hose swivel connectors. The connectors can separate from the hose or nozzle of the fuel pump resulting in fuel spillage and possible fire and explosion hazards.  The connectors are used on fuel hoses at gas stations that sell gasolines and diesel fuels.  The connectors that are recalled are listed below as follows:

 

Model                                                Manufacturing Date    

241TPS-0241C (3/4 inch)             01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

241TPS-0241 (3/4 inch)                01/2013 through 03/2017

36S (3/4 inch)                                01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

241-1000 (1 inch)                          01/2013 through 03/2017

241-1000C (1 inch)                       01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

36S (1 inch)                                   01/2013 through 03/2017

 

For additional information, owners or consumers can contact OPW by calling toll free 1-866-562-5931 or visiting www.opwglobal.com.  Owners and consumers can also visit the Consumer Product safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov/recalls/2017/OPW-Recalls-Gas-Station-Hose-Swivel-Connector (on 4th page of list).  The recall number is 17-116.

 

 

Samsung Recalls Washing Machines

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced that Samsung is recalling approximately 2.8 million top loading washing machines. The top of the machines can detach while in operation and pose a risk of injury. The detachment has been described recently by news reporting agencies such as ABC as an “explosion”.  This recall involves 34 models and is also dependant on the serial number.  The model and serial number information can be found on labels attached to the back of the machines.  Once the model number is verified, Samsung will have to be contacted in order to determine if the serial number assigned to that machine is involved in the recall.  Samsung can be contacted by calling 1-866-264-5636 or online at www.Samsung.com .  If a washing machine is identified as part of this recall, consumers will have one of three options: a free in-home repair and extension of the manufacturer’s warranty, a rebate to be applied to the purchase of a new machine (including another brand), or a full refund for consumers who purchased their machines within the past 30 days of the recall announcement.  The date of the recall announcement is November 4, 2016.  The recall number for this recall is 17-028.

The following machine models are part of this recall:

WA40J3000AW/A2          WA45H7000AP/A2

WA45H7000AW/A2          WA45H7200AW/A2

WA45K7600AW/A2          WA45K7100AW/A2

WA48H7400AW/A2         WA48J7700AW/A2

WA48J7770AP/A2             WA48J7770AW/A2

WA50K8600AV/A2          WA50K8600AW/A2

WA52J8700AP/A2            WA52J 8700AW/A2

WA400PJHDWR/AA        WA422PRHDWR/AA

WA456DRHDSU/AA         WA456DRHDWR/AA

WA476DSHASU/A1           WA476DSHAWR/A1

WA484DSHASU/A1           WA484DSHAWR/A1

WA 48H7400AP/A2           WA50F9A6DSW/A2

WA50F9A7DSP/A2             WA50F9A7DSW/A2

WA50F9A8DSP/A2             WA50F9A8DSW/A2

WA 52J8060AW/A2           WA 5451ANW/XAA

WA5471ABP/XAA                WA 5471ABW/XAA

WA56H9000AP/A2             WA56H9000AW/A2

Ceiling Fan Recall

A recall for Casablanca Ceiling fans has been discovered for a simple yet dangerous fault.  30,000 fans have been recalled because the fan motor and blades can separate from the adapter when it is used in updraft mode.  This won’t come as a surprise to many but, the fans were manufactured in China.  This is yet another example of the kind of poor manufacturing process that results in the erosion of public confidence.  How does something like the separation of the fan motor from its adapter escape scrutiny from quality control (assuming they have a quality control department) so as to put the consumer in danger?  Adding insult to injury, the recall affects 12 fan styles and 43 different models of Casablanca ceiling fans that were manufactured between 2013 and 2014.  The recalled styles are: Aris, Bel Air, Bullet, Caneel Bay, Heritage, Isotope, Riello, Stealth, Tecera, Trident, Whitman, and Zudio.  The recalled models are: 59018, 59019, 59020, 59021, 59022, 59023, 59057, 59059, 59060, 59061, 59062, 59064, 59065, 59068, 69069, 59070, 59076, 59077, 59078, 59081, 59082, 59083, 59090, 59091, 59092, 59093, 59094, 59105, 59106, 59107, 59109, 59110, 59111, 59113, 59114, 59119, 59121, 59123, 59124, 59164, 59165, 59527, 59528.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been eight reports of falling fan motors and fan blades with one report of a minor injury and one report of minor property damage.  Consumers should stop using the fans and contact Casablanca for a free in-home and repair.  Casablanca can be contacted by calling 1-855-800-3789.  Consumers should also be aware that the recalled models are associated with certain date codes.  The date code can be found on the top of the motor housing near the center where the vertical support rod attaches to the motor housing.  The date code is a four digit code with the last two digits being a “13” or “14”.  The recall specifically applies to those fans manufactured in 2013 or 2014 and with a catalog number of “A01”.  For Isotope models 59018, 59019,, 59020, 59021, 59022, and 59023, the canopy ring has to be removed in order to identify the product. These particular products also have a green dot that is part of the identification of the recalled units.

After having said all of the above,  the procedure that a consumer has to go through is not only time-consuming and troublesome but, can be frustrating.  Keep in mind that because the manufacturer is a Chinese company, holding the company responsible might be very difficult. The consumer has to depend on the American distributor, in this case, Casablanca, to make good on the inspections and repairs.  For many, this means relying on Casablanca’s representative to be truthful and honest about their findings.  If things don’t go as expected, the consumer could end up with a useless fan.  Unless there is a substantial amount of damage or injury involved, filing a lawsuit is usually not a practical option.  Consumers can file complaints with the CPSC and Better Business Bureau which could affect the company’s business reputation but, usually not enough to cause any significant change.  Another way to hit a manufacturer where it counts is to post unfavorable reviews on social media.  Enough of a following can affect sales, negatively!  The last recourse is to replace the fan at the consumer’s expense, chalk the whole thing up to a bad experience and go on with life.

 

 

Craigslist and Recalled Products

ABC News has reported that Craigslist is allowing users to post ads in an attempt to sell recalled products. It is against the law to knowingly sell recalled items.  Please be careful when purchasing any manufactured item, whether from Craigslist, Ebay, or any other forum where products are offered on an “as is” condition.  Before you buy do a little homework; it might save you a lot of pain in the future.  Get the name of the manufacturer, model and serial numbers.  Go to the manufacturer’s website and check for a recall on the item.  If you can’t find the item, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website; www.cpsc.gov to see if they have any recalls for the product.  By law, manufacturers are required to report defects to the CPSC as soon as they learn about a problem.  If you find a recalled product – STAY AWAY FROM IT!  Remember, products are recalled because there is the possibility of personal injury or property damage or both.  In either case, working through a serious injury or property damage can be expensive and time consuming.

Oil Filled Heaters Spray Hot Oil, Recalled Due to Burn Hazard

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has announced that Sunbeam Products has recalled approximately 34,000 Holmes Oil Filed heaters, models HOH 3000 and HOH 3000B.  The heaters can cause heated oil to expand and sprayed on to combustible fabrics and carpet resulting in a scalding and fire hazard.  The heaters involved in this recall are also identified as having the following code range: G192 through G 298.  Consumers should stop using the heaters immediately and contact Sunbeam for instructions on how to obtain a refund.  Sunbeam can be contacted by visiting their website at www.holmesproducts.com and clicking on “Oil Filled Heater Recall”.  Sunbeam can also be contacted by calling 1-800-515-4715.  It should be noted that this is not the first time that Holmes has had this problem.  In 2007, a similar recall was made for approximately 300,000 oil filled heaters that also sprayed hot oil and caused a fire hazard.  Officially, the root cause was found to have been overheating due to a poor electrical connection.

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